cover image Hope’s Boy: A Memoir

Hope’s Boy: A Memoir

Andrew Bridge, . . Hyperion, $22.95 (306pp) ISBN 978-1-4013-0322-8

In this memoir of a decade spent in foster care, Bridge illuminates the horrors of a system that, in its clumsy attempts to save children, he argues, all too frequently condemns them to physical and emotional abuse. The child of a teenage mother who divorced her abusive husband soon after Bridge was born, he watched helplessly as his mother disintegrated under the impact of isolation and poverty. At the age of seven, Bridge was dragged away from his mother, literally, by police and warehoused in an enormous California juvenile facility patrolled by armed guards. The state eventually transferred him to a foster family dominated by an obese, bullying Estonian woman who had survived imprisonment in Dachau as a child. At 17, as he prepared to leave foster care for college and freedom, Bridge finally had a reunion with the mother he never stopped missing. In his narration of this unending nightmare, Bridge shows particular skill in portraying his isolation and the defenses he constructed to survive it. He also has a talent for grotesques, particularly that of the monstrous foster mother who revisited the misery of her upbringing on her foster children. Bridge’s obsessive focus on his loneliness and his two “mothers” is so intense that a more balanced picture of his life fails to emerge and his attachment to another foster child remains unexplained. Yet Bridge, a Harvard Law School graduate who has devoted his career to children’s rights, has provided remarkable insights into a dark corner of American society. (Feb.)