They Cage the Animals at Night: The True Story of an Abandoned Child's Struggle for Emotional Survival

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The heartbreaking, iconic true story of an abandoned little boy’s horrific journey through the American foster care system.

On a misty evening in Brooklyn, Jennings Michael Burch’s mother, too sick to care for him, left her eight-year-old son at an orphanage with the words, “I’ll be right back.” She wasn’t.

Shuttled through a bleak series of foster homes, orphanages, and institutions, Jennings never remained in any of them long enough to make a friend. Instead, he clung to a tattered stuffed animal named Doggie, his sole source of comfort in a frightening world.

Here, in his own words, Jennings Michael Burch reveals the abuse and neglect he experienced during his lost childhood. But while his experiences are both shocking and devastating, his story is ultimately one of hope—the triumphant tale of a forgotten child who somehow found the courage to reach out for love, and found it waiting for him.
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About the author

Jennings Michael Burch was the author of the bestselling autobiography They Cage the Animals at Night. He worked as a New York City policeman, a chauffeur, a theater manager, a magazine pressman, and a short-order cook. He held a B.A. in forensic psychology from John Jay College. He passed away in 2013.
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4.8
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Oct 1, 1985
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781101659892
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Family & Relationships / Abuse / Child Abuse
Family & Relationships / Adoption & Fostering
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Pulitzer Prize–winning, #1 New York Times bestseller, Angela’s Ashes is Frank McCourt’s masterful memoir of his childhood in Ireland.

“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.

Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.

Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.
A young girl is perched on the cold chrome of yet another doctor’s examining table, missing yet another day of school. Just twelve, she’s tall, skinny, and weak. It’s four o’clock, and she hasn’t been allowed to eat anything all day. Her mother, on the other hand, seems curiously excited. She's about to suggest open-heart surgery on her child to "get to the bottom of this." She checks her teeth for lipstick and, as the doctor enters, shoots the girl a warning glance. This child will not ruin her plans.

Sickened

From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on—in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother’s mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the world’s most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretaker—almost always the mother—invents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman.

Sickened is a remarkable memoir that speaks in an original and distinctive Midwestern voice, rising to indelible scenes in prose of scathing beauty and fierce humor. Punctuated with Julie's actual medical records, it re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family's isolated double-wide trailer, their wild shopping sprees and gun-waving confrontations, the astonishing naïveté of medical professionals and social workers. It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie's family together—including the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother's happiness.

The realization that the sickness lay in her mother, not in herself, would not come to Julie until adulthood. But when it did, it would strike like lightning. Through her painful metamorphosis, she discovered the courage to save her own life—and, ultimately, the life of the girl her mother had found to replace her. Sickened takes us to new places in the human heart and spirit. It is an unforgettable story, unforgettably told.


From the Hardcover edition.
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