As an avid reader with no small interest in the workings of the mind, I was naturally drawn to the works of former special education teacher, Torey Hayden. While I can’t remember exactly when I read Ghost Girl, the first of her books that I found, I do remember what it made me feel.
Shock. Horror. Rage.
Reading the volumes containing the stories of Jadie, Sheila, and a host of other children taught by Ms. Hayden pulled me through a series of emotional hoops that were not soon forgotten. I’ll be blunt; these are not “feel-good” stories. Child abuse and mental disturbances are not subjects for a cozy fireside read, and Ms. Hayden herself has stated that not all of her students went on to lead successful, charmed lives.
So why read them?
In a word, hope.
The breakthroughs, small and large, that pepper these books encourage readers to believe that a difference can be made. The flashes of humor and insight prove that a damaged soul is not necessarily beyond reach or repair. Each passage brings a need to know that things can and will get better.
One child at a time, Torey Hayden relates her quest to help those who might otherwise have no one watching over them. With clear, unpretentious language, she brings home a vital lesson. These are not monsters to be feared and hidden away. They are children to be loved and nurtured.
We love our children; we want the best for them. We fear for their safety; we cheer for their happiness. When they are threatened in some way, we fight like tigers to protect them. Should we not feel this way about all children?
Torey Hayden is a former special education teacher and clinical therapist. The author of thirteen published works, she continues to work as a consultant and an advocate of children’s needs. Her bibliography and other information can be found on her website.