Book Review: One Child
By Sylvia Cochran- Parenting By the Book
Book Review: “One Child” by Torey Hayden
“One Child” by Torey Hayden
Publication Date: May 1981
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
“One Child” is not an easy book to read. It is the true account of a special education teacher who must go to bat for troubled children that the system (comprised of standards and litmus tests) alternatively places in out-of-the-way classrooms and mental institutions.
The reader rejoices along with special-ed teacher Torey as she succeeds in helping a young child come out of her shell and begin to grasp a future that is not held back by an absentee teenage mom who abandoned her while favoring another sibling. At the same time, the reader will mourn over the child’s abuse when she is raped by an uncle. “One Child” contains heartbreak, anger, frustration, victories and the overwhelming question why some children are treated as throwaways.
There are no real happy endings. The children in Torey’s classroom continue on through the system. The protagonist is a true survivor and lives a normal life apart from her horrific past. The aides who made “One Child” a study in team work and success – even when roadblocks threatened the child’s continued wellbeing – also went on, forever changed by the experience.
Readers catch a glimpse of these events and little more. Even so, this very small insight is sufficient to change something in the hearts and minds of the reader. Whereas before a parent might have groaned at the prospect of having ‘those’ (read: special education) kids coming into the standard classroom, she or he will now applaud the choice to mainstream the children whenever possible.
If you are ready for a heartbreaker that is every bit as gut-wrenching as it is compelling, “One Child” will make for a fascinating read.
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