In a past post I mentioned having a couple of books on more time-sensitive deadlines. Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter was one of those books. I’m a faculty member at a university, and this book was handed out to every freshman at orientation, so it becomes sort-of required reading for faculty members as well, especially when I’m teaching first-year students.

This book is A Series of Unfortunate Events in earnest. The memoir follows Ashley as she goes through what can be underwhelmingly called a rocky childhood. She ended up in the foster care for the better part of a decade, bouncing from home to home (and sometimes into larger-scale facilities).

Some of the homes were fine. Some were negligent. And some were downright dangerous.

There’s not really a lot to say beyond the fact that you’re going to follow a child through a traumatic journey. As I read, I went from vaguely wanting to adopt to never wanting to adopt and instead get impossibly rich so I can put money toward services to help foster kids out.

This was a rough read. I’ve never cried during a book, but this one made a valiant attempt to end the trend. There’s no light way to describe this. I’d say it’s a worthwhile read. The structure of the story is a little wonky at times when the author keeps things thematically together that means putting things out of order, but it mostly stays chronological, which helps keep track of Ashley’s progress and changes in personality.

You’re not going to get an escape in this book. You might cry. But go ahead and give it a try. There are worse things you can do than try to understand the foster care system.