cover image SOMEBODY'S SOMEONE: A Memoir


Regina Louise, . . Warner, $23.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52910-5

This straightforward, sincere story of a neglected child who tries to fulfill her wish—to be a "wanted and special child"—opens when Louise is 11. She's lived in a chaotic, violent foster home for as long as she can remember. After a brutal beating with a garden hose, she runs away to her well-meaning but ineffectual grandmother. From there, she pinballs from one relative or foster parent to another, all of whom treat her with indifference if not abuse. She ends up, at 13, at an Illinois shelter whose sheer normality (i.e., no beatings, and friendly people who teach her to swim and do macramé) allows her finally to relax a little. Unfortunately, it's a temporary situation, and Louise's anxiety over leaving a safe place makes her behave badly. The author, who's now a hair stylist and owns two Bay Area salons, brilliantly portrays how what seems like "in-cur-ridge-abul" to adults feels like simple self-defense to a child scarred by maltreatment. When one shelter worker finally gives her unequivocal love, it turns her life around. If this were fiction, it might seem overly maudlin; its poignancy lies in being a true story. The narrator's vernacular voice ("When I did ask somebody about the... reason my mama left... everybody got deaf and dumb all a sudden....") can sometimes make for bumpy reading. But this rare look into the inner world of an unwanted child will enlighten readers concerned with the fate of at-risk children. Agent, Arielle Eckstut. (June 12)

Forecast:This is part one of Louise's memoir. The author sometimes speaks at national foster care and social workers' conventions, and if she continues to do so and plugging her book, it should sell nicely. Ads will run in Essence.