Book Review and Giveaway: Riveting Short Story Collection

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“Layla swigged the entire bottle of cleaning fluid because she knew it had been watered down. The COs measured the fluid before kids used it to clean, then measured it again after chores were done. A drop less than expected was cause for reprimand: an hour in the “quiet room,” the evening without privileges (chaperoned walk in the razor-wire courtyard, extra glass of apple juice, et cetera, et cetera). Usually the most well-behaved kid was assigned bathroom duty, and it was considered an honor, a rite-of-passage even, to he or she who got to snap on the heavy-duty rubber gloves and scrub the toilet until the day’s traces of urine, shit, vomit, spit, semen were gone. Anybody off the street would feel at ease to sit on that toilet.” (3)

The stories in The Poor Children by April L. Ford will grab you with their realism, pull you in with their honesty and slice you open with emotions you didn’t know you had. These stories are real, gutsy and paint a picture of children living lives forced upon them in a way that will disturb and move you. But don’t let that stop you from reading this intriguing collection. The people in these stories are raw but surviving, pulled down but definitely not out and how they fight back and survive within their circumstances is at once as fascinating as it is horrifying.

These worlds reel from “Layla” traversing the dangers of a group home in the opening story to a young girl’s obsession with an older man in “Yellow Gardenias” and the startling choices made by a young girl forced into one salacious situation after another in “A Marmalade Cat for Jenny” to the horrors that Peggy Galvin will see as the newest member of Project-F in the disturbing and riveting final story, “Bananas and Limes.” These stories will pull you in (even when you don’t want them to). You will put the book down only to be so consumed by these images that you have to keep going back to read more.

I won’t say that this is an easy book to get through. I had to walk away from these stories on several occasions and give myself time to digest these characters and their situations. But I had to keep coming back; at times re-reading stories over and over to really get everything I could out of them. I wanted to go several layers deeper so I could fully grasp this idea of how these children find a way to survive; how they simply find the way to make choices that keep them moving along a landscape they inherited but never really chose.

Ford traverses the landscapes in The Poor Children with a deft hand and a command of imagery that will keep you fascinated and captivated. Your heart will splinter for these children; your heart will distend for these children, but mostly your heart will ache for these children. These stories are raw and real and after reading them, you may never want to watch reality TV again. This is a poignant and riveting collection of stories about children surviving on the edge of a world we can only get a small glimpse into but never really fully understand.

Reviewed by Joan Hanna

Thanks to author April L. Ford for providing us with ONE giveaway book!

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-Note: This giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only

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About Libby

Libby started with Author Exposure as the book review editor and has evolved into the AE site editor. She was the creator and interviewer for the What's Next feature and still manages to squeeze in reviews of her own.

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