An unflinching look at the adverse effects foster care can have on a child's life, this stunning autobiography rises above the pack of success fables from survivors of America's inner cities. Born in the 1950s to an underage single mother serving time in prison for murder, Fisher was placed in the home of a staunch minister and his wife, who appeared to be a loving couple to the series of foster care workers who monitored their home in one of Cleveland's working-class neighborhoods. Writing in a deft mix of elegant prose and forceful dialect, Fisher is especially adept at dramatizing the tactics of control and intimidation practiced by his foster mother on the abused children in her care, such as crushing Fisher's self-esteem by calling him worthless, shaming one girl after she began her period and making the boys bathe with Clorox. (Fisher supports his detailed recollections with excerpts from the actual foster-care records.) An added bonus is the author's vibrant recreation of several key black neighborhoods in Cleveland during the golden age of the Black Power movement, before the areas disappeared under the aegis of urban ""renewal."" If a major feature of survival memoirs is their ability to impress readers with the subject's long, steady climb to redemption and excellence, then this engrossing book is a classic. (Feb. 5) Forecast: Boosted this season by a national ad campaign, 25-city radio campaign and a six-city author tour, interest in Fisher's autobiography is guaranteed to swell when the movie adaptation of the book (shooting this month and directed by Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington, who will also star) hits screens nationwide (tentatively scheduled for next winter).