Cruel to Be Kind: Saying no can save a child's life
By Cathy Glass
Cruel To Be Kind is the true story of Max, aged 6. He is fostered by Cathy while his mother is in hospital with complications from type 2 diabetes.Tweet
Cathy is a foster carer who writes books which tell the true stories of the children who come to stay with her. This particular book is about Max, a remarkably serene 6-year old child who comes from a troubled background and needs some respite care.
I was really looking forward to this book as I have read books by other foster carers in the past and have found them to be both fascinating and inspiring. On some levels this book did not disappoint. Max’s story was a very interesting, if difficult one and despite the heartbreaking details which were revealed about his background and home life, he remained stalwart throughout and coped with everything that was thrown in his direction with astonishing composure. One particularly nice touch is that we hear what happens to him later on in life, many years after the time frame in which this story is set, and this is a really nice addition to the story as that information is often not available.
However, I was disappointed with various other aspects of the book. I don’t know if it was a typical Cathy Glass book as I have not read any others but I had a problem with her attitude to so many things. Max was undoubtedly overweight and this seemed to be a huge issue for Cathy herself, who became almost obsessed with it. She also frequently came across as being both patronising and condescending, and seemed naïve on occasions, often saying things along the lines of “surely his Mother would….” when it was quite obvious that actually his Mother wouldn’t. My final criticism (and I realise that I am sounding like a moaning nitpicker here – sorry about that) is that there is too much detail and too much repetition. For example, when Cathy puts the children in the car, do we really need to know that she checks that their seatbelts are securely fastened – and not just once, but on various occasions. There are quite a few similar examples which, unfortunately, gave me the impression that Cathy was more concerned with ensuring that readers thought that she was a good foster carer than she was about telling the child’s story. Parts of the book did seem more like a manual for foster carers than the story of a disturbed little boy.
Based purely on this book, the only one I have read by this author, I would probably not go out of my way to read more by Cathy Glass in the future. This is purely a personal opinion but I think there are other authors out there who do a more sensitive job of writing about their experiences.
This is a well written account of a child placed into temporary foster care. The author has been in the caring profession for many years and this is a heartwarming but tough tale of one of her placements. Faced with hostility and suspicion at the outset by the mother, Cathy sees success against all the odds. Rarely, we hear how the child has fared by the time he has reaches young adulthood. Recommended.