In the tradition of David Pelzer's A Child Called 'It' comes the unsettling story of a mute, almost catatonic seven-year-old and the special education teacher who tries to save her from the silence and abuse of her world.
Hayden has chronicled experiences from her long career as a special education teacher in several books, including One Child and The Tiger's Child. Successes in this difficult and often frustrating field can be few and hard won, a fact which Hayden deftly illustrates while simultaneously offering hope and joy in small victories. This time she brings to life the story of a scruffy seven-year-old, Venus, who is so unresponsive that Hayden searches for signs of deafness, brain damage, or mental retardation. The author is relentless in her attempt to diagnose the cause of Venus's 'almost catatonic' state, which is punctuated by occasional violent outbursts. In this first-person narrative, Hayden also shares her own thoughts, worries, and reflections on the strained relationship with a mismatched classroom aide, creating a rich tapestry of the dynamics of a group of special needs youngsters and the adults who try to help them.
©2002 Torey Hayden (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
A key aspect of Torey's books is that the key child has come from a bad background, whether it's Jadie's horrendous abuse or Sheila's poverty, it's part of what makes them who they are and a reason for them being in a special needs setting.
Venus is no different, it's clear from the start that her family are disfunctional. What develops is a heartbreaking but joyous tale of the relationships between Torey, her aide and the children in the class.
At first I was unsure about the narrator, I really wasn't sure whether I would take to her voice, but after a while I stopped hearing her as the story drew her in. That makes it sound like there was something wrong with the narrator, and there isn't, she just has an accent that was unfamiliar to me, but hey, I'm British!
This story made me feel better, because it demonstrated a group that even super-teacher Torey struggles to control, normally her control of these learners just depresses me, because the rest of us mere mortals haven't got Torey's magical powers with 'interesting' kids.
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