What happens when Social Services fail you? And even though you've turned eighteen, or so it says on your birth certificate, you're still not ready for adulthood? Children in foster care face this dilemma daily, for as soon as they're 18, they're dumped from wherever it is that was paying for them to stay. The Williams brothers, three small boys, grew up tough, and in their different ways, Jermaine, Lamar and Jeffrey all tried to cope with a foster system that alternately coddled them and abused them. I was moved to tears by reading the account of Jermaine's last days on earth, simply written by ace reporter Martha Shirk. Happily, the other members of Jermaine's family are living still. Then there's Giselle, a promising young girl who unfortunately becomes prey to anorexia. All too soon, adulthood is upon her, while she's still struggling with a common problem of teenage girls. Liberals worry about these issues, while those of a more conservative bent argue that 18 is certainly old enough to expect a young man or woman to get out on his own and stop depending on charity or handouts. But Shirk and her co-author Stabgler admit there are no easy answers.
Anyone can read this book and identify with the ideas behind it, for in one way or another we are all affected by the problems of aging and by being forced by old Father Time into a realm we are really not prepared for. For these young people, it was turning 18. For some of us, it might be turning thirty. And for baby boomers, it will be the call of the retirement trumpet when, once so active, people born in the 1940s and 1950s will be put on the shelf in today's changing world, without sufficient preparation on how to live in that place of old age. Jimmy Carter contirbutes an elegant foreword that shows he has really thought about the problems of youth. That's the saddest story of all.