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Just Another Kid

12th October 2005

Just Another KidHayden is teaching a self-contained EI class. She has 5 students who struggle with various issues ranging from autism to anger. But her neediest student turns out to be a parent helper – Ladbrooke- who struggles with alcoholism and depression. Under Hayden’s guidance, Ladbrooke finds her own niche as a teacher’s aide, and is eventually able to cope with her own problems.

Again, the students that Hayden teaches, and the circumstances under which she works never cease to amaze me

Somebody Else's KidsThis was the first book I ever read by Hayden. I read it first years ago, loved it, but forgot about it. Then, when I was at my mom’s house last summer, she had another Hayden book, One Child, which I read. That reminded me of this book, so I read it over again.

As do most of her books, this one chronicles one school year with Hayden and her classroom. This time, she’s teaching as a resource room teacher, but also is given the responsibility of teaching 4 children who don’t fit in anywhere else. My favorite storyline involves Lori, a first grade student who just can’t learn how to read, no matter what anybody tries. Eventually, Hayden comes to realize that for Lori, there are more important things than reading. Because this story takes place early in Hayden’s career, she has a hard time summoning the courage to stand up to school officials and fighting for Lori.

I was incorrect when I wrote that The Very Worst Thing was Hayden’s first novel. That was her first novel for kids. The Sunflower Forest was actually Hayden’s first novel. It’s set about 25 years after WWII. 17 year old Lesley has always been a caretaker for her mother. Her mom suffered at the hands of the Nazis in Germany, and was never able to fully recover. When her mother sinks further into mental illness, Lesley’s dad seems unable to acknowledge the seriousness of the condition and ask for help. Eventually, tragedy strikes, and the family must cope with the results.

I hope that Hayden sticks to stories about her students. This book was OK, but I probably wouldn’t have finished it, if I hadn’t enjoyed Hayden’s other books so much.

Twilight Children by Torey Hayden

12th September 2005

Hayden is working at a children’s psychiatric ward when she meets Cassandra, who is recovering from an abusive kidnapping situation, and Drake, who is a charming 4 year old who won’t say a word. Hayden works to make a break through with Cassandra, and tries to unravel the mystery of why Drake won’t speak. Although Hayden usually works only with children, she begins meeting with Gerda, a lonely, depressed, 82 year old stroke victim who is refusing to communicate.

Sometimes reading Hayden’s books just make me tired! Where does she get the mental energy to help these people who are so desperate, and then to write a book about it all?Twilight Children : Three Voices No One Heard Until a Therapist Listened

Ghost Girl by Torey Hayden

12th September 2005

Ghost Girl: The True Story of a Child in Peril and the Teacher Who Saved HerHayden has written about some truly horrific abuse situations, but this book is by far the most disturbing. Hayden moves to a tiny town in the midwest during the middle of the school year to take on a 4 student special ed. class. While all of the children present a challenge, Jadie is the biggest mystery. Initially, she will talk to nobody. When Jadie begins talking to Hayden, Hayden soon realizes that something is seriously wrong with Jadie, even though her home life at first glance seems fine. Hayden comes to suspect that Jadie is a victim of some type of ritual abuse. However, she has no proof, and nobody in the small town can believe such an accusation could be true in their town. This was a hard book to read. I think the worst part was that even though Hayden and other “officials” knew something horrible was happening to Jadie, and were supposed to be able to protect Jadie, they were helpless to do so without any hard evidence.

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