Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Memoir
written by Shenandoah Chefalo
published by Shenandoah Chefalo Publishing, 2016
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I enjoy this book: I’m not sure you can enjoy a book like this. It’s both heartbreaking and horrifying. I think most of us know families where the children aren’t wanted, and Chefalo’s book is a wrenching reminder of what that does to the children. I can’t imagine not loving my kids. I can’t imagine choosing anything other than what I think is best for them. I can’t begin to imagine how long it’s taken Ms. Chefalo to fix her broken heart. I’m angry at her caregivers, angry at the system, angry at the people I know who’ve made similar choices. It’s hard not to sink in a world like ours, and Ms. Chefalo not only taught herself to swim, she’s teaching us, too.
Would I recommend it: It would be irresponsible of you NOT to read this book.
About the book – from Goodreads: Garbage Bag Suitcase is the true story of Shenandoah Chefalo’s wholly dysfunctional journey through a childhood with neglectful, drug-and alcohol addicted parents. She endured numerous moves in the middle of the night with just minutes to pack, multiple changes in schools, hunger, cruelty, and loneliness. Finally at the age of 13, Shen had had enough. After being abandoned by her mother for months at her grandmother’s retirement community, she asked to be put into foster care. Surely she would fare better at a stable home than living with her mother? It turns out that it was not the storybook ending she had hoped for. With foster parents more interested in the income received by housing a foster child, Shen was once again neglected emotionally. The money she earned working at the local grocery store was taken by her foster parents to “cover her expenses.” When a car accident lands her in the hospital with grave injuries and no one came to visit her during her three-week stay, she realizes she is truly all alone in the world. Overcoming her many adversities, Shen became part of the 3% of all foster care children who get into college, and the 1% who graduate. She became a successful businesswoman, got married, and had a daughter. Despite her numerous achievements in life though, she still suffers from the long-term effects of neglect, and the coping skills that she adapted in her childhood are not always productive in her adult life. Garbage Bag Suitcase is not only the inspiring and hair-raising story of one woman’s journey to over- come her desolate childhood, but it also presents grass-root solutions on how to revamp the broken foster care system.