Review and Giveaway: Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

cover1“Love may not be enough to wake a child in the morning, dress him, and get him to school, then to feed him at night, bathe him, and put him to bed.  Still, can any of us imagine a childhood without it?”  from Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge is a memoir of a childhood spent in foster care.  There are approximately half a million young people in foster care in the United States.  They are removed from their homes when the court decides that they’ve been abused or neglected by their parents, or when poverty, death, illness or other circumstances beyond their control make it impossible for their biological parents to properly care for them.  Such was the case with Hope’s boy, Andy.  

When the book opens, 5 year old Andy is living in Chicago with his grandma Kate, who is struggling financially but doing the best she can.  One day her daughter Hope calls from California, insisting Kate put Andy on a plane and send him out to her.  Andy barely remembers his mom, but Kate, feeling she has no choice, says goodbye to Andy and sends him to Los Angeles.

Life with Hope is unpredictable and chaotic.  She means well and loves her boy but isn’t prepared to take care of a child.  In their two years together Andy witnesses his mother’s rape at knifepoint, is woken up at 2am to burglarize a house with his mom and her friend, and eats from dumpsters.  Hope, plagued by voices in her head that tell her they are coming to take Andy, becomes paranoid and protective, insisting Andy not go to school for fear they will ‘get him’.  They are evicted from their apartment for nonpayment of rent, but Hope refuses to leave, smashing the front window so they can enter after the locks have been changed.  They briefly live with a pastor’s family who try to help, but eventually they wear out their welcome and move to a motel.  Finally, in a heart-wrenching scene, Andy is pulled away from his mother by a social worker as police shove Hope to the ground.  

Life with Hope is hard, but life without Hope is hell.  Hope’s Boy shines a light on the harsh realities of a broken system.   Taken to MacLaren Hall, more like a prison than a juvenile facility, nothing is explained to this frightened little boy.  After several months in that horrible place he is placed with a family that offers stability and food but lacks any semblance of nurturing, encouragement, or love.  He stays with the Leonards for the remainder of his childhood, hanging onto the scraps he has from his mother (“You are my boy”) and finding solace in school.   There is no effort to reunite his family, and the abuse and neglect in his foster home goes on unchecked.  He sees Hope only a handful of times, in one hour increments under the watchful eye of his foster mother.  But then the visits stop completely for nearly a decade, leaving Andy to worry and wonder.  Andy remains ever hopeful that she will somehow come back for him.  Like a child lost in a big department store, Andy believes that if he stays put, she will find him.

bridgeAgainst staggering odds, Andy goes on to college, later graduating from Harvard Law School and becoming a Fulbright scholar, without any assistance from family of from the foster care system.  This is miraculous as the majority of foster children never graduate from high school, let alone college.  In fact, 30-50% of children aging out of foster care are homeless within 2 years.  They crowd our shelters and prisons. Without the memory of his mother’s love to hang onto, who knows what might have become of Andrew Bridge.

In an impassioned plea for reform, Bridge wonders:  

“Did Hope’s visits to the Leonards’ house have to be so hostile?  Did she have to be limited to one visit a month for an hour?  Could someone have asked her what she needed to assume more of motherhood’s responsibilities, to assure her son that she was there for him, to ease her son’s unyielding loneliness?  Was it necessary to leave her boy to think that she had just disappeared?”  from Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge, page 295

You can check out the author’s website for more information about the book and the foster care system.

Thanks to Molly at Hyperion for sending me this emotional memoir and for offering a copy to one of my readers.  If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Hope’s Boy, please leave a comment here by Monday, March 23rd. 

44 Responses

  1. I would love to be able to read this book. My grandmother used to take in what they called hard to place children (handicapped) in foster care. I knew at times the demand left her frusterated and outraged at the system. I truly do believe she was one of the better foster parents. Thanks for the opportunity! Indigo

  2. This sounds like a sad, wonderful book. I had a few friends in the system when I was growing up, but luckily they ended up with parents who offered more them a home and not just a bed.

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  3. I teach kindergarten. I have a special place in my heart for children like Andy. I have a child this years who’s in foster care. Every day he asks me to pray for a family for him.

  4. I’d love to read this book, count me in. Thanks, Lisa.

  5. Please include me in this giveaway. Before I retired I worked in the social work field with foster kids and throw aways. I’d like to read this book!

  6. Wow this book sounds really touching. Please enter me, the story sounds very interesting to read.

  7. It is a very interesting and sad story. I would really love to win this.


  8. Andrew is truly an inspiration. I hope that children in care today and those who aged out get to read his book and hear him speak. He is a wonderful role model for t hem I grew up in care. Now I study the lives of chlidren in care and thru presentations try to explain to professionals who work with foster children the day to day realities of foster children’s lives and the impact it is having on their development. I would love to read Andrew’s story.

  9. Oh I would love to read this.

  10. i’ve been seeing this book on a few blogs lately…and i’m really interested in reading it–i could use a good read after 3 mediocre ones in a row!!!

    nat @ book, line, and sinker

  11. Wow. What a story.

    No need to enter me. I’m just dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I’ve got this posted at Win a Book.

  12. Some of Andy’s story is very similar to what I experienced growing up, minus the foster care part. I think there are probably even more similarities and would be interested in reading this.

  13. I am considering becoming a foster Mom, and would love a chance to win this book. Please count me in. Thank you!

  14. Please count me in. I would love to read this book

  15. Wow. How heartbreaking, yet encouraging. Enter me.

  16. This sounds like such a heartbreaking story and amazing as well, considering what Andrew has achieved. Please enter me.

  17. This book looks sad but amazing at the same time. Please count me in!

  18. Geesh. Even just the description and your review nearly made me cry. This sounds like a heartbreaking and powerful story. Please count me in on the giveaway. I’d love to read this. Thanks!

  19. I would love a chance to read this book. Please include me in your giveaway.

  20. that was an amazing review! I would love to read this book as well! Please enter me for a chance to win this!


  21. Great review!! I’d love to win a copy!! Thanks!
    luckistarr4 AT gmail DOT com

  22. Wow — sounds like an incredible book.

  23. Great review! I’ve had this one on my reminder list for a while and would love to win a copy.

  24. I’d love to have a chance to win.
    Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at] yaoo [dot] it

  25. I almost bought this at B&N the other day, but maybe I can win it instead. Woot!

  26. I would love to read this book. It is so amazing how these children mend themselves and go on to acheive great things. My heart goes out to all the foster kids.

  27. Wow, this book sounds intense and very sad. It is amazing that the author was able to break out of these bonds and have a successful life and career. I would love a chance to be able to read and review this one. Please enter me into the contest.

  28. I would like to read this book.

  29. I have looked at this book often in the book stores and the story of how he overcame his odds, inspirers me.
    I would like to read this book and post a review as well.
    Thanks so much,
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

  30. I work in a daycare so I automatically love anything having to do with children. Over the holidays my aunt and uncle came to visit and brought the foster care children they were fostering. I absolutely feel in love with them and could not imagine anyone hurting them….. What’s even worse is the fact that their parents may be able to keep custody
    Anyways I would be delighted t read this book and pass it onto my aunt the next time she visits.


  31. I would like to be in this contest
    kmanfredini AT gmail DOT com

  32. This sounds like an amazing book. My husband and I have talked about doing foster care. This would surely be an inspiring book.

  33. I would love to read this book! I had good friends in college who were foster parents. It is something that I wish I had the courage to do. My husband was a foster parent for awhile and he said that it could be very heartbreaking!

    Please enter me in the drawing.

    kherbrand at comcast dot net

  34. Don’t enter me – I’ve read this book already. I think Andrew Bridge is amazing to come through what he has so well.

  35. I loved the interview and the book sounds really good! I would love to read it!

  36. I would love to read this book because I have been in foster care for the last 6 years and I believe that every child’s story must be heard. I also want to know if his story is just as heart-wrenching as mine…

  37. Please include me in your giveaway.

  38. […] GIVEAWAY- Hope’s Boy: A Memoir by Andrew BridgeLeave a comment by March 23rd for a chance to win! Subscribe in a reader Subscribe […]

  39. […] a reminder- today is the last day to enter the contest for Hope’s Boy by Andrew […]

  40. […] a reminder- today is the last day to enter the contest for Hope’s Boy by Andrew […]

  41. This sounds like a very powerful and insightful story. I know it will be a “difficult” read but I would love to win a copy. The foster-care system is trying hard to change and do things right. They are now realizing that sometimes these children do need contact with their birth parent(s) and if the foster parents can help to facilitate this, all the better. But keep in mind these absent parents are often addicts, homeless, and very broken people. So to ask someone to not only take on a small child to raise but also open the door to this troubled stranger can be a lot to ask. Maybe this book would help them understand the importance of trying to do both…

  42. This book sounds wonderful … I’d love to read it!

  43. I heard about this book today at training. We are learning how to complete effective home studies for foster homes. I would love an opportunity to read this book and own a copy.

  44. Amazing! Such a motivational story. I did not have it that bad as Andrew but can connect in so many ways. I know some of what he went through and how I felt. I know how some of the feelings still stays with me today on the inside, it never really goes away. Everything has a purpose in life and he used his struggle to help others . Bless that man !

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