Seven-year-old Venus Fox never spoke, never listened, never even acknowledged the presence of another human being in the room with her. Yet an accidental playground “bump” would release a rage frightening to behold. The school year that followed would be one of the most trying, perplexing, and ultimately rewarding of Torey Hayden’s career, as she struggled to reach a silent child in obvious pain. It would be a strenuous journey beset by seemingly insurmountable obstacles and darkened by truly terrible revelations—yet encouraged by sometimes small, sometimes dazzling breakthroughs—as a dedicated teacher remained committed to helping a “hopeless” girl, and patiently and lovingly leading her toward the light of a new day.
Nine-year-old Cassandra, kidnapped by her father and found starving, dirty, and picking through garbage cans—is a child prone to long silences and erratic, violent behavior.
Charming, charismatic four-year-old Drake will speak only in private to his mother—while his tough, unbending grandfather's demands for an immediate cure threatens to cause irreparable harm.
And though she had never worked with adults, Hayden agrees to help fearful and silent eighty-two-year-old massive stroke victim Gerda—discovering in the process that a treatment's successes could prove nearly as heartbreaking as its limitations.
One autumn Kersjes got the outlandish idea that his students would benefit from going to Space Camp, where, in conjunction with NASA, high school students compete in a variety of activities similar to those experienced by astronauts in training for space shuttle missions. There was only one problem: this program had been specifically designed for gifted and talented students, the best and the brightest from America's most privileged high schools.
Kersjes believed that, given a chance, his kids could do as well as anybody, and with remarkable persistence broke down one barrier after another, from his own principal's office to the inner sanctum of NASA, until Space Camp opened its doors, on an experimental basis, to special ed students. After nine months of rigorous preparation, during which the class molded itself into a working team, they arrived at Space Camp, where they turned in a performance so startling, so surprising, that it will leave the reader breathless. A truly triumphant story of the power of the human spirit.