Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: On the Edge of Unthinkable

"I had a really hard time accepting his compliments. In fact, the first time he said something nice to me, it felt as if he had hit me."

"On the Edge of Unthinkable" is Paula Kyle's journey through childhood abuse and foster care, and the above passage is how she describes feeling when complimented by her foster father. Only a hurt soul could view a compliment as painful as the blows inflicted on her by her father, Dave. Through twists and turns that sometimes seem stranger than fiction, Paula describes her brokenness as she and her siblings are torn apart and placed into foster care following her mother's death. 

This book shatters the myth that once a child finds a forever family, everything will be OK. Even though Paula did not want to be adopted by her foster parents, Larry and Bonnie Ulrey, they were as close to a forever family as she would ever have.

And at age 51, Paula tells us that no, everything is not OK but it could have been worse without the love and unconditional support from her foster parents all those years. 

"On the Edge of Unthinkable" is a must read for anyone considering fostering teens because it's the unfiltered version of "The Blind Side." Despite some modest publishing glitches, the message to foster teens and foster parents is as clear as Paula's most powerful quote: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

The chapter written by Paula's daughter Christina was heartbreaking. To read about her struggles as she takes on the role of parenting her own mother offers a unique perspective on what happens to foster children who carry their demons into adulthood.

"On the Edge of the Unthinkable" provides a view into the volatile mix of mental illness and child abuse, and some misconceptions within foster care. This story is a testimony of Paula's painful past through childhood and adolescence, and a testament to the patience of her seventh -- and final -- set of foster parents, the Ulreys, who opened their hearts and home to a broken child.

Paula's book can be purchased on her website, On the Edge of Unthinkable.

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