Wow, there are a lot of 5-star reviews on the front page for this book. I can see why this book can be an eye-opener and definitely a heartbreaker, but unfortunately I didn't have the same overwhelmingly positive reaction to this book as many other reviewers. I've been trying to figure out why... it should be a very empowering book, given that Andy escapes the stigma of the "foster child" label and makes good, but it didn't affect me that way.
This book paints the picture of a struggling family who needed more support than the state was willing to provide. Andy was treated as many children of difficult homes are/were, and shipped off to a children's home where the kids were treated more like juvenile delinquents, and then to a dysfunctional foster family. Andy grows up, comes to terms with his mother and grandmother, and moves on with his life, to help children like him.
I don't want to sound like a heartless person when I say this, but I think Andy had it relatively good, compared to other children in the system, and other books I've read. From age seven (or eight?) on, he stayed with the same family, who provided him with food on the table, a bed, school, medical care and, yes, a healthy heaping of emotional abuse. It sucked for Andy but I wonder how much it sucked for the biological children of these parents. These children, and thousands of others born to barely-functioning-but-getting-by parents every day, don't have options, don't have another mother figure to turn to, and don't have the same complete escape or the option of no longer contacting their parents after they turn 18.
Andy took a cruddy childhood and turned it into a very admirable adulthood working for children like him. I respect that. Andy seems like a good guy, but he seems to gloss over the parts of his childhood he brought on himself: his loneliness because he won't reach out to people (and is indeed cruel to them at times), his adoration of his mother and his lack of contact with his grandmother.
I think a little more of a look into the broken system of foster care and what Andy is doing with his adult life to change it, maybe a bit about the children he has helped and the homes he has closed, would have saved this book and made it less of something to trudge through.