It is common for these kinds of families to collapse, with spouses being left as single-parents. This is precisely what Childers’ describes in her book.
While Childers is between the age of 10 and 16, she describes the tough circumstances in which she lives. Childers is the eldest of 7 children, and she is often left in charge of them when her mother wanders away. At home, they do not have a telephone, and there is often no electricity too. They also went to bed to bed hungry.
Childers often regrets what she has experienced. The 1960s was a period when non-whites were locked in a struggle to attain equal social rights. However, this did not mean that whites were well off, as many of them lived at or below the poverty line. The United States was increasingly engaging in war in Vietnam, and this put a strain on the economy. Yet, there was some form of welfare to rely on.
Amid getting an education through welfare, Childers experienced poverty, violence, neglect and shame. While these are experiences that one may not be able to recount calmly, she succeeds in doing so with honesty and grace. It is here that it is noteworthy to mention that she looks back at her dreadful past as though she appreciates what she has been through. Perhaps, these were hard lessons that taught her well.
Childers was not alone in her battle, as her family fought for survival. However, it is her recount of prevailing over unwanted pregnancies and cruel boyfriends that impresses us. She managed to keep her education going despite her struggles outside and within the home. While they lived in bleak conditions, Childers and her sister, Joan, had come to realize one important thing. They knew that they must break the cycle of poverty, and they could do this by getting educated.
At home, she had to contend with single mother who was an alcoholic. While she describes how much she