Top Educator Speaks on Plight of Children of Incarcerated Parents
edited: Friday, April 14, 2006
By Irene Watson
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, April 14, 2006
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"An Inmate's Daughter" is the story of a thirteen year old girl struggling to find friends and fit in with her peers in a new school. Besides being the "new" girl and living with her grandparents, Jenna MacDonald lives with a secret - her father is in prison for killing a man and her mother has a rule against talking about her dad and prison - but Jenna is expected to go with her mother to visit her dad.
This book is a fictional account of the reality faced by over 2 million American children with a parent in prison or jail. The children are doing the time too.
An Inmate’s Daughter
By Jan Walker
Raven Publishing, Inc. (2006)
Reviewed by Kim Peterson for Reader Views (2/06)
Jenna MacDonald didn’t mean to do anything wrong when she plunged
into Puget Sound to save a little girl from drowning. She just reacted on
instinct. She had been rescuing her rather hyper younger brother in their
neighborhood swimming pool for years without her mother knowing.
But Jenna’s mother is upset because her actions have called attention to
their family. The rescue occurred at McNeil Island boat dock during a
visit to Jenna’s father who is serving time in prison. Now, the paper
wants to run a story and the McNeil Island Corrections Center wants to
investigate how it happened.
When her dad was transferred to this site, Jenna’s family moved, too.
Now they live with her grandparents and Jenna is adjusting to a new
school. She feels confused by her mother’s anger and insistence that
they keep her dad’s situation private. Jenna wants to talk to someone
about it. She wants to feel like she belongs to a whole family.
Jenna’s grandparents encourage her to make friends and to enjoy life.
But junior high is tough and Jenna, who is half Native American,
struggles to find her niche. When she tries to join one of the racially-
mixed “in” groups, they ask questions about her family bringing the
tensions between Jenna’s need for acceptance and her mother’s desire
for secrecy to a head.
More than two million American children wrestle with the stigma of an
incarcerated parent. Few of these children receive the assistance they
need to cope with their situation. Walker’s book takes on a tough topic.
Her book informs and encourages young adult readers so they can
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