Hope's Boy, a memoir by Andrew Bridge

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Publishers Weekly
A System of Facelessness

by Robert Anasi
Published: 12/3/2007

In Hope's Boy (Reviews, Oct. 29), Andrew Bridge tells of his hard road from foster care to Harvard Law School.

Is the foster-care system as horrible in general as it was for you in particular?
Well, everyone's experience is different. These are all individual lives, and individual tragedies, that we're talking about. But I think overwhelmingly, there is far, far too little good. Within two years of leaving foster care, a third to half of the kids are homeless, and a majority of the girls are pregnant. And their kids often end up in the same system.

Is it mainly a problem with the system?
The government does a fairly good job of paving roads and putting out fires, but when it comes to caring for the lives of individual people, it tends to do poorly. Veterans hospitals, psychiatric care, public nursing homes, you name it. We have a long history in this country of not respecting the integrity and values of families in poverty.

We hear about children in foster care as victims. But we never get their thoughts or opinions.

We don't look at them as individuals. A child loves his parents more than anything. They are his beginning and his end. There's a genre of abuse books, which focus on what's been done to a child rather than that child's internal life. Children are human beings; they have talents and hopes. So if I've done anything to add to that perspective, it would mean a lot to me.

In the book, when you were seven or so, another kid asks you to go skiing and you lash out at him. Your isolation is a defense. You don't want to trust anyone.
Even a casual gesture like that required too much from me. I didn't know what to say. No adult ever sat down with me and told me: 'Andy, when another seven year-old asks you where you came from, this is what you can say.' Even in college, people would ask, 'What do your parents do?' and I would be speechless.

What was your motivation to write this book?
I'm very comfortable talking about my past, but the thing that I never, ever, discuss is my mom. And this book in many ways is more about her than me. Here was a young beautiful woman who fell apart in front of my eyes, who lost her child, who lost her freedom, was put in a mental facility and never had her story told. If I didn't feel the tremendous love and commitment to her and to that memory of her, I couldn't have written the book.

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