Sunday, January 27, 2008

Torey Hayden --24

Torey Hayden is a teacher of those children society deems "garbage"...autistic, schizophrenic, emotionally damaged, suicidal. This was in the seventies and eighties, before autism became a popular disease. I read One Child, a book I've read before, which the story of Sheila, a six year old so abused and emotionally scarred that she takes a neighborhood child out to the woods and sets fire to him. Because no one else will take her into a normal classroom, Torey gets her. She's emaciated, owns one shirt and one filthy pair of overalls, and reeks because she wets the bed every night and the shack she and her father live in has no running water for bathing. In one shocking scene, she gouges out the eyes of the classroom goldfish and strangles the baby gerbils that belong to one of the teacher's sons. Reading her books actually lit a fire in my oldest daughter to work with autistic children, and not only does she tutor an autistic second-grader in our school, but is headed off to college in the fall for a degree in Special Education. If you love children, read these books. But have the Kleenex ready.

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