The Tiger’s Child by Torey Hayden
Non-Fiction. Published 1995.
Read: February 2013, 264 pages
When Hayden first met Sheila, she refused to speak, her only communication coming through bursts of destructive, violent behavior. After five intense months, Hayden successfully broke through to Sheila, and successfully fought to have her placed in a regular classroom.
Hayden did not see Sheila again until she was 13. Much to Hayden’s astonishment, Sheila remembered little about their extraordinary time together. As Hayden continues to renew her relationship with the teenage Sheila, the memories slowly come back, bringing with them feelings of abandonment and hostility.
The Tiger’s Child is the squeal to One Child where it catches up to Sheila and Torey’s life years later. I adored One Child- you can check out my review of it here. Although it fills in the rest of the story for the reader, it neglects to be pleasantly delivered. This book is “more honest” as Sheila puts it.
It is far too often that children are mistreated and abandoned. Sheila is no exception. You learn of further abuse she suffered and the difficulties that remain ahead of her as a teenager. Sheila begins working with Torey as an aide for a summer program with children. Torey sees Sheila more as a client than as her caretaker, which is what Sheila is longing fore. I was appalled that Torey got a letter from Sheila reaching out about suicide and did not respond. It takes a whole year more and more letters from Sheila until she visits her a children’s residential treatment facility.
It breaks your heart to see the pain Sheila endures and her strained relationship with Torey. One thing to take from this book is that Sheila felt ‘Torey/social services/the system’ should and could have done more for her. She was continually forced to remain within an unstable, abusive, and dangerous environment.
What I remember are the colors…as if my whole world had been in black and white. -p61
One Child by Torey Hayden
Non-Fiction. Published 1980.
Read: September 2012, 318 pages
The time had finally come. The time I had been waiting for through all these long months that I knew sooner or later had to occur. Now it was here.
She had surprised me so much by actually crying that for a moment I did nothing but look at her. Then I gathered her into my arms, hugging her tightly. She clutched onto my shirt so that I could feel the dull pain of her fingers digging into my skin. She cried and cried and cried. I held her and rocked the chair back and on its rear legs, feeling my arms and chest get damp from the tears and her hot breath and the smallness of the room.
Sheila, a 6-year-old girl living in grinding poverty and raised by her single father faced some daunting odds when she entered Torey Hayden’s special needs class. Abandoned by her mother, beaten by her father and facing a court ordered sentence to a hospital after a particularly violent episode, Sheila was extremely aggressive and wary.
I could not put the book down. Torey tells such a fluent and engaging story about Sheila. It certainly spotlights the tragedies of this world. Neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse of children are something to be taken seriously. You will see a glimpse of the resiliency of a child in the extraordinary read One Child.
I adored how Torey read Sheila The Little Prince and Sheila knew she was tamed and special to Torey. Sheila desperately needed someone to care for her and care about her. Torey gave Sheila a piece of all the good in the world. It is horrifying what Sheila faces. especially the sexual abuse at the hands of her Uncle. Sheila flourished in Torey’s classroom and the reader becomes attached to the story.
It’s heartbreaking and happy, moving and monumental. I appreciate the compassion and determination of individuals who positively impact the lives of hurting youth.
I think you do be crazy person too. -p75
Why you care? I can’t figure that out. Why you want to tame me? -p144