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Behind the Emotions

Joanne Clairmont Author Interview

Joanne Clairmont Author Interview

Away from Home is a real and heartbreaking look into the troubled thoughts and feelings many teens experience when part of the foster care system. It seems that your foster children are an obvious inspiration, but what made you put pen to paper (so to speak)?

I am by no means an experienced writer but I wanted to capture the thoughts and feelings of some of the young people that I look after. This was important to me to gain an understanding of how young people may be feeling when they come into my care. Young people coming into the care system may not verbalise how they feel but may show how they feel through actions.

I liked ‘Don’t know if I am coming or going’ because it was a simple and realistic take on how a newly placed teen may feel upon arriving in a new place. What was your favorite poem from the collection and why?

My favourite poem was ‘wonderful you have come back to see me’. It is my favourite poem because it shows with, attention, care and firm boundaries young people can succeed. They do not have to leave care the same way they came in.

What do you think is a common misconception about foster children that people have today?

Teenagers are portrayed by the media for being ‘out of control’ and dangerous. Young people come into care for all different reasons and it is up to responsible adults to guide them through life.

I felt that Away from Home allowed me to understand the ups and downs of the foster care system. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I am hoping that my book can be used as a training tool for new carers thinking of fostering teenagers. They will learn about some of the emotions that young people display when coming into care and foster carers training will help them find ways to deal with the behaviour. The end result in some cases is worth not giving up.

Also people with teenagers can relate to some of the emotions that are displayed in book and the reasons behind it. Behind the emotions, there are possible reasons for the behaviour.

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Away from Home is a collection of short poems inspired by the writer’s experience of fostering teenage girls over a ten year period.

The poems are from real life situations of teenagers in my care. Fostering teenagers can be challenging but it is also very rewarding.

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Away From Home

Away From Home

Away from Home by Joanne Clairmont is a very real and heartbreaking look into the troubled thoughts and insecure feelings many children and teens experience when part of the foster care system. As an experienced foster mom, Clairmont has dealt with a number of heart-breaking cases of fostered teens feeling lonely, isolated, and abandoned upon entering her home. She writes vividly about the struggles and emotions those in her care have faced, and the unseen turmoil brewing within them as they are placed into yet another new environment. Oftentimes sorrowful, Away from Home is an important read in understanding the ups and downs of the foster care system by those directly experiencing it.

A short book broken up into six sections, Away from Home shares Clairmont’s foster care experiences in poem form. Each section contains several poems related to a specific type of foster child, such as The Unsettled Teenager and The Challenging Teenager. Most of the six sections share the pain and loss of security many fostered teenagers can relate to when thrust into a foster situation. The last section, titled The Independent Teenager, completes the journey of emotional growth of the foster care teenager and consists of more uplifting and positive poems.

I appreciated that the author could interpret the actions of her fostered teenagers from the first night they arrived at her house until they had grown and moved on with their lives. I found the poems in The Unaccompanied Minor and The Unsettled Teenager especially easy to connect with due to their complete realization and understanding of how a teenager would feel upon entering a new foster placement. They presented a personal psychology into the effects of the instability and adaption foster children must cope with through no fault of their own.

I especially liked how the author construed the emotions of a new placement in “Don’t know if I am coming or going.” It was a simple and realistic take on how a newly placed teenager may feel upon arriving in a new place after enduring several former placements. It captures the frustration and identifies the protective wall that has been built up to shield the fostered teenager from experiencing any more emotional loss.

While there were many poems that hit the mark in eliciting a feeling or emotion when read, there were also a few that didn’t do it for me. “It is not cool” and “No school today” seemed like unfinished thoughts or small snippets that could have been better fleshed out. I think the book would greatly benefit from some additional structuring and the addition of more personalized images.  The images in the book are generic and vary in artistic design. More simplified, original artwork would do wonders to visually present the ideas and feelings of the poems.

Overall I thought Away From Home really presented the emotional psychology and depth of the foster care system and those who live it. It created a descriptive and realistic picture for those who may not be familiar with the tragedy and distress many teens experience while in foster care. Aside from the few issues I had in reading, this book was an intense, creatively written study of an important subject.

Pages: 52 | ASIN: B077QLBKSC

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