Reviewd by Christina Moussa
Florida International University
Unable to cope with the loss of patronage from her mother, young Ashley yearns to find the love of a family in everyone she meets. A grandmother, who cares for her, a grandfather who is invested in a life of crime, and a treacherous woman whose forms of punishment are hardly considered motherly, are just some of the people that the main protagonist encounters in her path for self-discovery. Ashley dreams of having a place she can call home. A house that is filled with her brother’s endless laughter and the banter of two people she wishes to one day call parents. Every year, hundreds of children are thrown into the foster care system hoping to someday here that they will be adopted and live happily ever after. With picturesque storylines that leave readers enveloped and wanting to know more, Rhodes-Courter gives readers can autobiographical account of her life in Three Little Words.
When she was three years old, the author witnessed how police entered her home and arrested her mother, an event that changed the innocent child’s life forever. On that fateful day, Ashley and her younger brother Luke, were placed into the foster care system where they were exhaustively moved from home to home for nine years. Throughout her discourse, the author discusses the moments in which she felt despair and despondence, leaving the reader invested in the storyline. Yes, the loss of her mother was irremediable, but the inability to have a family, a group of people that would love her unconditionally, was too much for Ashley to bear. Living with the Mosses where the mistreatment of children seemed to be a top priority for the matriarch, the author dealt with physical abuse and humiliation, two factors that helped transform her into the strong-willed woman she is today.
Through her experiences in foster care, the author depicts the psychological trauma that such a situation can have on a person, specifically a child. She draws attention to the actions of the state by declaring that “according to Florida law, dependency cases are supposed to be brought before the court system every six months,” (p. 105) an idea that the lawyers who overlooked her case had failed to acknowledge for more than two years. A product of teenage pregnancy herself, Ashley’s mother gave birth to her at the age of seventeen. This memoir introduces the unprecedented risks that may arise from adolescent pregnancies, a subject that many do not wish to touch upon out of fear that it may lead to a dispute. On a yearly basis, foster homes are filled with children who come from a troubled past and wish for a prosperous future. Perhaps instead of continuously overcrowding these centers, reforms should be made to guarantee that children like Ashley, are able to find formidable homes instead of jumping to and from unsuitable ones.
This memoir can be useful to anyone working with students, particularly those who struggle with adoption or dealt with teenage pregnancy. Academic advisors serve as confidants for individuals who wish to speak in regards to their education or even their life at home. The men and women in which they speak to may be battling forms of depression or anxiety if they received a similar upbringing to Ashley’s. Nevertheless, counselors will see this highly motivational autobiography as valuable as they search for answers on how to help students that are dealing with similar traumas as the protagonist
Three Little Words. (2008). Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Simon & Schuster, Inc.. 36 pp., $11.99, (Paperback), ISBN #978-1-4169-4806-3, http://books.simonandschuster.com/Three-Little-Words/Ashley-Rhodes-Courter/9781416948070