Book Review. Somebody Else’s Kids by Torey Hayden

Torey Hayden is a writer who has worked in various roles with troubled kids. Her books recount those experiences, albeit with names and details changed for privacy reasons. Torey Hayden has been one of my favourite writers since I was a teenager. The historical nature of her books, these being set in the 70’s and 80’s, appeals to me. As well as the insights into how child care was administered 40 years ago, and how kids with behavioural issues and disabilities were diagnosed, treated and educated then. I have an interest in psychology, how the brain works and what makes people tick too, and there is plenty of that in Torey Hayden’s books. Which is fascinating to me. In a parallel universe, perhaps I did study psychology and go on to develop a career in that field. As it is, I struggle to spell the word. 

Somebody Else’s Kids was published in 1981. It is set in a time where the main streaming act had passed and special education kids were being placed back into regular classrooms. Torey Hayden had been teaching resource. This soon changes. There are 4 kids who are struggling to integrate in a classroom for one reason or another and so these make up the writer’s new class. 
One of those is Claudia, a teenager, who is pregnant. She was the character I identified with. Claudia is studious and escapes by reading books. She is vulnerable because her home is in an emotional vacuum. 
When a boy buys Claudia McDonald’s, that’s what made Claudia believe he was nice and good to her and that they were both ready to have sex. In a conversation with Torey, Claudia is surprised to learn from her teacher that you are supposed to want sex and that it should feel pleasurable. ‘Selling her soul for the price of a McDonald’s milkshake and here was a girl whom no one thought needed help.’ I had similar experiences in my teens with boys. Needy, lonely and naive. 
Somebody Else’s Kids feels like a roughly written story, it’s more charming to me for that because it feels more real in its unrefined - ness, if that’s a word. 

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