The Tiger's Child

The Tiger's Child

Book - 1995
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Special-education teacher Torey Hayden's first book, "One Child, " was an international bestseller, thrilling readers on every continent. Their hearts were captured by Sheila, a silent, troubled girl who had been abandoned on a highway by her mother and abused by her alcoholic father, and who refused to speak. As Hayden writes in the prologue to this book, "This little girl had a profound effect on me. Her courage, her resilience, and her inadvertent ability to express that great, gaping need to be loved that we all feel -- in short, her humanness -- brought me into contact with my own."

Since then Hayden has gone on to write books about many of her students, but her fans continue to ask her, "What happened to Sheila?" "The Tiger's Child" is her response. Here Hayden tells how Sheila, now a young woman, finally came to terms with her nightmare childhood.

When Hayden was working on "One Child, " she showed the manuscript to Sheila, then a teenager, and was astonished to find that Sheilaremembered almost nothing of her troubled younger years. She had no recollection of her many clashes with her teacher as Hayden tried to break through her emotional pain. And although Hayden had managed to get Sheila to communicate and become an active and lively child, Sheila's home life was still very troubled. Her father had been sent to prison when she was eight and Sheila had run away from a series of foster homes until finally she was placed in a children's home.

Publisher: New York ;, Toronto, Ontario :, A Lisa Drew Book/Scribner,, [1995]
Copyright Date: ©1995
ISBN: 9780025491502
Characteristics: 256 pages ;,24 cm.


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DBRL_KrisA Jan 20, 2018

There's a point in this book where the author returns from vacation to find a letter from Sheila, the subject of this book; Sheila writes that she's planning to commit suicide. The letter had been sent at about the same time as Hayden had left for vacation. She tries to figure out how she can find out whether Sheila was still alive, but can't think how she would phrase the question to the staff of Sheila's group home; in the end, she does nothing and gets caught up in her other clients and activities. Reading this, I thought, "Call the group home, tell them Sheila had written to you, and ask if she can have visitors. Even if they don't tell you whether Sheila committed suicide, they'll at least tell you whether she's there."
I've realized that's the thing that bugs me about Hayden - she has all this formal training, but so much of the time she doesn't know how to react to a situation. A student breaks down? She sits and watches instead of reacting. A child disappears? She and a coworker stand and argue for 15 minutes about whose fault it is before looking for him. So much of the success Hayden has with clients in these books seems to be made up of lucky breaks and stumbling onto a method that works. In fact, she admits as much in several of the books.

That being said, I enjoyed reading this book. Hayden originally had Sheila as a student at the age of 6 (a story written about in her book "One Child"); "The Tiger's Child" retells that story, then picks up when Hayden reunites with Sheila eight years later. In the interim, Sheila has had a pretty rough life; her addict father basically pimps her out to support his habit, she moves from one foster home to another, etc. Hayden is operating a summer program for some of her child clients and offers Sheila the chance to work as an aide in the program. Sheila's interactions with the children and with Hayden, and her coming to terms with all the things that have happened to her, make up the rest of the book.

Reading Hayden's books, and her accounts of the horrible things that have happened to these children, is emotionally exhausting. The fact that people, often the children's parents themselves, could do such terrible things, makes me incredibly sad. I'm thankful that there are people like the author who are driven by a need to help these children work through the severe emotional trauma they've been subjected to.

Jul 15, 2011

One of my favorite authors from when I was a teenager. Really compelling story that I loved!

penpencil22 Jun 24, 2011

I wanted the follow-up on Sheila to have more of a typical "happy ending," but that's just not life, right? I still loved it, and I am glad Torey wrote more on Sheila, so that we knew where she ended up.

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Aug 17, 2018

pink_flamingo_961 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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