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Parents wanted

Publication Information:
Minneapolis, Minn. : Milkweed Editions, c2001.
Physical Description:
239 p. : illustrations.
Twelve-year-old Andrew, who has ADD, is adopted by new parents after years of other foster homes and desperately hopes that he will not mess up the situation.


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When 12-year-old Andy meets Laurie and Jeff at an adoption party, he has already been in eight foster homes. Andy's alcoholic mother has given him up to the state as "too hard to handle," and his father is in jail. Andy longs for a loving home and parents he can trust, but his attention deficit disorder, combined with the legacy of his dysfunctional parents, causes him to constantly challenge authority. He steals, destroys property, gets in trouble at school, tries to make a gunpowder bomb, and accuses Jeff, his soon-to-be father, of touching him inappropriately. To make matters worse, Andy's real father shows up asking for money. But Andy's new parents refuse to give up on him, and Andy must fight to save his soon-to-be-father's reputation and his own chance at having a real family.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Andy Fleck's father is in jail and his alcoholic mother has turned her son over to the state because, as an ADD child, she considers him too difficult to handle. At an adoption party, he meets Jeff and Laurie Sizeracy, who agree to become his foster parents and who are interested in adopting him. Having lived in several foster homes, the 12-year-old knows that he'll need to learn a new set of rules. He has always been dishonest and uses lies to get his way. When he does not want to help Jeff with weekend chores, he falsely accuses him of improper touching. When he is taken away from the Sizeracys while the Department of Social Services investigates the accusation, he admits that he lied and needs to convince everyone that he is telling the truth. Eventually the couple officially adopts him. Readers are exposed to Andy's inner thoughts and turmoil. However, information about foster families and the adoption process is sketchy and the time line is inconsistent. Andy moves in with the couple after six outings, having never visited their house. He has very little respect for Laurie, but his attitude slowly changes by the end of the novel. Realizing the power of false accusations of molestation, Andy threatens Jeff with accusations a few times in the book. While a real concern, this inclusion lessens the powerful implications of sexual abuse. Most libraries will be better served by Jack Gantos's Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Farrar, 1998).-Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Harrar (First Tiger) creates a balance of tenderness, humor and dramatic tension in this convincing portrayal of an ADD foster child adjusting to a new family. After being rejected by his birth parents, then several foster families, 12-year-old Andy is anxious to be adopted by a "normal" couple and the Sizeracys appear to fit the bill. However, his good intentions are often overshadowed by disruptive behavior. Confusing the conflicting values of his birth parents and his new guardians, Andy frequently gets himself into trouble. His antics escalating from vandalizing mailboxes to stealing to making false accusations of child molestation nearly threaten his chance for a permanent placement with the Sizeracys. A couple of subplots (Andy's brief encounter with his biological father, a crotchety neighbor's abrupt change of heart towards Andy) get short shrift, but overall this novel offers a persuasive portrait of the inner workings of Andy's mind. The author captures the hero's emotional turmoil and desperate need for acceptance. Readers will sympathize with both Andy and his adoptive parents as they seek and eventually find mutual trust and love. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

After living in several foster homes, Andy is placed for adoption with Jeff and Laurie Sizeracy. The twelve-year-old narrator, who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, immediately begins testing the limits of his new guardians by arguing, stealing, and making false claims of molestation. Though AndyÆs narrative is long-winded and overly detailed, his bad behavior is believably portrayed. From HORN BOOK Spring 2002, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

"So you know I'm obnoxious right?" And "everything always goes wrong when I'm around," Andy Fleck, a 12-year-old boy with ADD and problems with impulse control, asks his new foster father. The genius of this tale, which sandwiches wonderfully observed comic moments between scenes that are both heart-wrenching and suspenseful, is that the reader sees exactly how obnoxious and exasperating Andy is, yet roots for him with his or her entire being. Andy, a boy who's full of bravado but can't go to sleep at night without his stuffed bear, is a child who desperately needs a family. His drunken mother and jailed thief of a father surrendered him to the state of Massachusetts. Ever since, Andy, though intelligent and resourceful, can't sit still, obey orders, or cooperate with authorities, has been placed in numerous foster homes, "passed around like a puppy that nobody wants 'cause it keeps messing on the floor." But now he has a real possibility for security. Two good people are willing to take him into their home with an eye to adoption. Can this over-wound boy whose ethical landscape is as twisted as a corkscrew keep his behavior under control? In a first-person voice that's all too real, the drama intensifies as Andy tests his new foster parents' patience and fortitude, finally culminating when Andy tells a devastating lie about his foster father. A killer read. (Fiction. 10-14)

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-9. Twelve-year-old Andy Fleck hasn't had many breaks in life. His dad is in jail, he's in foster care, he's saddled with attention deficit disorder, and trouble always seems to find him. Even so, he's turned out to be a pretty likable, upbeat kid. Then Laurie and Jeff Sizeracy begin the process of adopting him, and suddenly Andy's lying, challenging Laurie, getting in trouble at school, and stealing money from Jeff. It's only after he accuses Jeff of molesting him that he realizes the full consequences of what he's done. It seems a little awkward for Andy to be supplying information about ADD that his social worker or a guidance counselor could have provided, but Harrar perfectly catches the impulsive behavior of children with the problem and also lends some insight into the adoption process. Readers will care about Andy and appreciate the hopeful, realistic ending. Kids on the younger end of the target age group for this story may want to read Jack Gantos' books about Joey Pigza, who also has attention deficit problems. --Chris Sherman

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