Safety is the most basic task of all. Without sense of safety, no growth can take place. Without safety, all energy goes to defense”
― Torey L. Hayden

 Beautiful Child written by Torey Hayden is a true story about a girl called Venus who is highly unresponsive seven-year old. Hayden, the author of this book, is an educational psychologist and a special education teacher. The setting of the book is in her classroom where she teaches five students: an aggressive and loud 9-year-old Billy, 8 year old Jesse who has Tourette’s, six year old twins who had suffered FAS and Venus who is so unresponsive that Hayden assumes she is deaf. However, Venus does talk to her older sister Wanda (actually her mother) and after getting unintentional bump on the school playground, Venus starts crying and screaming and reacts this way every time someone touches her.

“Yeah, it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But ‘hard’ is not ‘impossible’.”
― Torey L. Hayden

I found this book (and all of Hayden’s books) to be highly inspiring and touching. It was interesting to follow how all the students advanced in their studies and how they changed during the time when Hayden was their teacher. I still don’t get how Hayden could be so patient with the children and how she gives so much of support to these children. I also like that she tells that it’s not easy, and she is also frustrated about a lot of things mentioned in the book. Still, if I would have her job, I would probably  have some serious mental breakdown during the first days so the work she does is admirable (which makes her writing admirable).

I’d give this book 8½/10

How-To Read Beautiful Child

1. At least for me reading nonfiction is a lot harder than reading fiction. That is especially the case with books like this. Children are so sweet and innocent and they should be protected. And then some have just really bad parents. This is why I wouldn’t recommend this book for too young readers (would recommend to 13+).
2. What I like about Hayden’s books, including Beautiful Child is that they have a happy ending. Hayden discovers what the problem is and how to help the children.
3. Hayden has great story-telling skills, so you get pulled into her memoir very easily. The events  take place during one school year, so the pace of the book is very fast and it keeps your interest. It’s not very long book  either, nearly 400 pages.
4. Even if it is very serious book, it is quite funny at times as the students of hers get in funny situations.
5. If you like this book and you haven’t read other books by Torey Hayden, I recommend you do. Other as powerful book is David Pelzer’s A Child Called ‘It’.

“Perhaps the greatest magic of the human spirit is the ability to laugh, at ourselves, at each other, and at our sometimes hopeless situation. Laughter normalized our lives”
― Torey L. Hayden

Buy Beautiful Child on Amazon