Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne Walker
What would you do if you were living in an abusive foster home and no one seemed to care or do anything about it? Almost sixteen-year-old Pamela Reager is in just such a situation. Her parents had been killed by a drunk driver when she was seven, and since then she had been staying with Ann and Jim Walls. Ann was mean, often hitting Pamela and the four younger children in her care. Jim was kind to her but would never do anything about his wife. Pamela longed to run away but stayed to help the other children. She did complain to her teacher, Mrs. Crowley, who contacted Child Protection Services. The sympathetic CPS worker, Cynthia Yates, could not find any proof of abuse but still managed to find ways to remove the younger children.
Once the four others were gone and Pamela turned sixteen, she was able to carry out her plan to run away. Having hidden all kinds of provisions in the barn, she takes the palomino horse whom she has named Helper and goes off on the far side of a steep mountain where she finds an old cabin. Her plan is to stay in isolation until she turns eighteen, but she discovers that the horse has many extraordinary gifts. Helper leads several other people into her life, such as a neighbor, Trenton Gill who is just graduating from high school, and Craig Bonswell, a six-year-old boy whose parents are killed in car wreck. How will these people affect Pamela's life, and what will she do when she turns eighteen?
The first edition of Helper was reviewed at Stories for Children by Gayle Jacobson-Huset, currently the Fiction/Poetry Editor of SFC, who said, "It's a great read for teens and will hold their attention." I certainly agree. The book has just the right combination of action and description so that the reader will not only want to keep turning the pages but also will be able to savor what's on the pages. There were several typos in the original book, so author Malinda Mitchell published a second edition that is much better than the first and was professionally edited. This book would be especially good to help young people who have been in abusive situations to know that there are help and hope as they see how Pamela overcomes her bitterness and anger to become a well-adjusted adult. Malinda says, "Even though she makes some questionable choices based on her experience as an abused child, she learns valuable lessons." My only objection is that the print seems exceptionally small, but I really enjoyed the engaging story as well as the lifelike illustrations by Neal Wooten.
5.0 out of 5 stars Susan Wigden's review of "Helper.", June 18, 2009
By Susan M. Wigden - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME) This review is from: Helper (Paperback)
"Helper" is a beautifully written tale that touches the heart and leaves the reader thinking about the story long after they close the book. Malinda Mitchell has taken a very serious subject and turned it into an inspirational message. Helper, the horse is so believable that one can't resist becoming quite attached to his charming personality. A heart-warming gift for anyone and a lovely book to purchase for yourself. I love the dedication of this book and believe that this is a talented author with a special spirit.
Review by: Readers Favorite - 5 stars
Pamela Reager was only seven years old when her parents were killed by a drunk driver. She lived in a foster home for the next 9 years. She was abused by her foster mother along with the 4 other children living in the home. She ran away when she was sixteen. She made her escape with the help of a book and a palomino horse named Helper.
She took refuge in a cabin on top of a mountain in Tennessee. The cabin was perfect for her. It was as though someone had set it up just for her. She hoped to live there until she turned 18. Helper had extraordinary gifts. He brought her food and other items she would need to survive. One day a young boy arrived at her door. Trenton lived down the mountain.They became friends. Trenton helped her out with groceries, laundry, and feeding Helper. Helper led her to a car accident where she found 6 year old Craig Bonswell. His parents were killed in the wreck.
This is a wonderful,heartwarming story that takes a disturbing situation and turns it into something beautiful. This book is light fantasy. It was beautifully written and difficult to put down. I highly recommend this book for all teens and young adults.
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