This book is the latest in the rapidly growing collection of books by parents who learned about the private Parent-Choice Emotional Growth/Therapeutic Residential School and Program network the hard way; by having to find residential placement for his daughter before her self-destructive decisions destroyed herself and her family. In it, the father describes in great detail the emotional roller coaster he goes through in each step of the process, from recognizing the severity of the problem, to getting advice on what to do about it, as well as the difficulties in understanding his daughter and his nostalgia for the happy father-daughter times of the past.
In a sense, this book is a very intimate diary of the thoughts, feelings, frustrations, triumphs and confusion he shares with his wife and daughter as they go through this journey, which sometimes includes a contest of wills with his daughter.
The author appears to include every aspect of his emotional journey from his fear of a phone call from the police to his later fear that her phone calls home will deteriorate, to his exaltation when they have a "good" phone call, to his sinking feeling upon meeting some of her low-life friends, to his relief when he has a brief glimpse of the wonderful daughter he used to know peeking out from time to time, to the frustration he feels because of criticism from "friends" who think he is over-reacting, to the relief he feels when he meets the parents of other students because they are the only people who truly understand what his family has gone through and what he is trying to do for his daughter.
The author is equally honest in his self-evaluations regarding his interactions with the staff and professionals he worked with. He describes how his reactions ranged from appreciating the professionalism of some, to frustration over the apparent insensitivity of other staff. As the story unfolded, I sometimes muttered to myself "That's no way to treat a family!" Or, "That's not the way to do that!" Unfortunately, the mix of staff and professional competency in these programs rings all too true in my experience. The positive thing is that competency is a stated goal of all quality programs, and they still rise far above the generally mediocre competency and sensitivity of the usual run of the mill public agency staff, something routinely testified to by most of my clients.
This book is an attention grabber. Any parent, such as myself, who has placed a child in one of these schools or programs can easily relate to and compare their own experiences with those of the author. It would also be a very enlightening read for any parent who doesn't have a child with these behavioral problems but who wants to truly understand what drives these parents to make the radical decision of residential placement. More importantly, it could be a real eye-opener for non-parents who otherwise would not have a clue as to what these parents go through.
By the way, this story of a difficult journey does have a happy ending, making all the trials and tribulations worth it, at least in the eyes of the author.