Penguin Pr. Aug. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780593489475. $27. MEMOIR
Nietfeld’s captivating page-turner recounts her difficult Minnesota childhood. After her parents divorced, she writes that their own mental illness made them unable or unwilling to give their daughter even minimal care, and she experienced periods of homelessness and foster care. During her high school years, Nietfeld decided that excellence—achieving something great—would be her way out. She expertly describes the determined mindset with which she tackled seemingly unrealistic goals while also battling almost impossible setbacks; readers will find themselves rooting for Nietfeld to reach a successful adulthood (she eventually graduates from Harvard and becomes a software engineer). Her memoir effectively relates the experiences of a child forced to raise herself due to negligent parents and ineffectual social and psychiatric services.
VERDICT A gripping firsthand account of a teenager navigating homelessness and the foster care system. It should appeal to many and may be of particular interest to school counselors, foster parents, psychologists, social workers, and others who work with children in difficult situations.
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