Title: Life of a Bastard (Vol. 1)
Author: Damien Black
Release Date: August 15, 2017
“My memories from this period are often nebulous. They bend and warp like clouds caught between two fronts. A lot of terrible things happened to me that I try not to remember, but I was a child, I was innocent, and I used to be happy sometimes. ”
Born in Spanish Harlem in 1972 to a teenage Puerto Rican mother and a Black father, Javier Soto is a blemish on the face of American society. After a suspicious fire allegedly set by his mother, while his father serves time in prison, Javier and his sisters are removed from their home into foster care. This true story of Javier Soto’s life takes you on the soul-stirring journey of a young boy in the custody of a brutal world.
Beginning at the Catholic Home Bureau, Javier’s tale depicts the evolution of an innocent child into an enraged teenager as he battles his way through the perils of abuse, starvation, and neglect. Like thousands of American children who are driven into the foster care network Javier and his siblings are repeatedly shuffled through numerous foster homes, each one less welcoming than the last. Following eventual separation from his sisters, Javier is left to continue his crusade of survival alone.
An indelible account that tells of a boy’s anguish, self-loathing and an unsatisfied yearning for love that is the birthright of every child. With such little grounds for hope, how far will Javier go?
Many contemporary YA books I’ve read lately have main characters in foster care. But the endings for those children are not realistic. They get adopted by amazing families or reunited by long lost siblings or even discover that they have magical powers. This book shows the truth of what happens in foster care.
Black did a great job of creating a narrative out of this true story. It was quite graphic at times when describing the abuse that Javier experienced, including beatings and rape. But it shows the real experience of many children in foster care.
There were illustrations throughout the book that were childlike. They were good, but I think they make the book seem more like a children’s book, when it is definitely for an adult audience.
This book also could have used some more proofreading. There were many errors that could have been fixed with an extra proofread.
This book really opened my eyes to the struggles that many children face. It’s a harsh truth but a reality nonetheless. I hope this book spreads awareness of this horrible life, so kids in foster care receive better treatment.