Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Beautiful Child

Author: Torey Hayden
Goodreads Rating: 4.16
Pages: 385
Reviewed by: Amy

In the tradition of David Pelzer's A Child Called 'It' comes the unsettling story of a mute, almost catatonic seven-year-old and the special education teacher who tries to save her from the silence and abuse of her world.

Hayden has chronicled experiences from her long career as a special education teacher in several books, including One Child and The Tiger's Child. Successes in this difficult and often frustrating field can be few and hard won, a fact which Hayden deftly illustrates while simultaneously offering hope and joy in small victories. This time she brings to life the story of a scruffy seven-year-old, Venus, who is so unresponsive that Hayden searches for signs of deafness, brain damage or mental retardation. The author is relentless in her attempt to diagnose the cause of Venus's 'almost catatonic' state, which is punctuated by occasional violent outbursts. In this first-person narrative, Hayden also shares her own thoughts, worries and reflections on the strained relationship with a mismatched classroom aide, creating a rich tapestry of the dynamics of a group of special needs youngsters and the adults who try to help them.

I haven't read a lot of books about teachers and their stories of the classroom (which is weird because I am studying to be a teacher), but being a future teacher, I am reconsidering this because of this book. It is a wonderfully true story that both shocked and amazed me. I loved this teacher's dedication even when everything was against her.

The characters were fantastic (even though they were real). My favorite was Billy who was such a little troublemaker but brought a lot of the humor to the book. I loved seeing these characters, including the main one, Venus, grow and change in the year that this book took place in. It really says a lot about how far even the smallest rewards can be. And shows how much hard-work, dedication and of course, caring for others can change even the seemingly impossible cases.

This was a very inspirational book that I think every teacher should read. It really can show that hard-work pays off and simply caring for your students can make a world of difference to them. I know this was a short review, especially for me and I feel like I'm not doing the book justice, but read it and see for yourself :) Even if you aren't a teacher, it can be nice to learn about tolerance in the work place and show that teachers make a huge difference to children. It is a great motivational book :)

Also, when you are done with the book, be sure to check out Torey Hayden's website to see a nice "Where are they now" (continuation from the epilogue) from one of the character's of the book!! 

 The Courts Decision:

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