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They Cage the Animals at Night (Signet) Burch recounts the tragic period in his childhood, beginning at age 8 when he is dropped off at an orphanage without explanation by his mother.  Burch is then bounced from institution to home to foster home and back to institutions for the next several years.  He never knows if or when he will see his family again, and his only comfort is an old stuffed animal taken from an orphanage.  Burch struggles to learn the rules in every new place that he visits, but the hardest rule to accept comes from a boy his own age:

“There ain’t no friends in here. . . It’s like this.  If you got a friend in here and they go away someplace, then you’re left by yourself, alone.  And if you keep making friends and they keep going away, then over and over again, you’re alone. . . It hurts.”

But in spite of this rule, and in spite of the abandonment and abuse that Burch repeatedly experiences, he eventually learns to love and receive love.