DNF Rant: Another Place At the Table


Title: Another Place At the Table
Author: Kathy Harrison
Publisher: TarcherPerigee
Publication date: May 24 2004
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

The startling and ultimately uplifting narrative of one woman’s thirteen-year experience as a foster parent.

For more than a decade, Kathy Harrison has sheltered a shifting cast of troubled youngsters-the offspring of prostitutes and addicts; the sons and daughters of abusers; and teenage parents who aren’t equipped for parenthood. All this, in addition to raising her three biological sons and two adopted daughters. What would motivate someone to give herself over to constant, largely uncompensated chaos? For Harrison, the answer is easy.

Another Place at the Table is the story of life at our social services’ front lines, centered on three children who, when they come together in Harrison’s home, nearly destroy it. It is the frank first-person story of a woman whose compassionate best intentions for a child are sometimes all that stand between violence and redemption.

Really disappointed that I couldn’t finish this one. It came highly recommended from several lists of suggested books for people interested in becoming foster parents. I attempted to read Another Place At the Table for #AYEARATHON’s non-fiction readathon this month, but I gave up about halfway through.

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The author uses the R-word very liberally throughout the book to describe some of the children in her care. I gave her the benefit of the doubt at first because I realize this is an older read and politically correct terminology changes over time. But as the book progressed, the word started to feel less like a descriptor and more like a weapon against the child it was being used to describe. And then I checked the pub date again and realized that I was in high school when the book was released. I absolutely knew by then that using the R-word was completely unacceptable and offensive. That the author (and her publisher, editor, and various prerelease readers/reviewers) didn’t know this, or perhaps even chose to ignore the negative connotations the word now holds, seems sketchy at best and completely inexcusable at worst.

There were several other worrisome themes in the book, such as the author and her husband’s seemingly inability to say no to social workers inquiring if they could take on more children. This, despite the fact that she stated at multiple times in the book that they were overwhelmed and felt like the children weren’t receiving adequate attention from her and her husband. At one point she even admits that she had forgotten a foster children’s name! The author is a privileged white woman who blatantly looks down upon the bio parents and families of the children in their care, and rarely gives them the benefit of the doubt. The viewpoint of the author was biased and one-sided.

I’d prefer to find a book about foster care from multiple POVs- foster parents, former and current foster children, bio parents, educators, and various workers in the system in order to have a better unbiased realistic picture of the foster care system as a whole. Anyone have any recommendations?

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It’s pretty rare that I DNF a book. Especially one that I’ve purchased, but this one was just not worth finishing.  What’s the last book you DNFed? 

2 thoughts on “DNF Rant: Another Place At the Table

  1. Pingback: Wrap Up: August 2016 |

  2. Pingback: St. Patrick’s Day Book Tag |

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