A Reading Group Guide to
By Ashley Rhodes-Courter
About the Book
In this sequel to Three Little Words, a memoir about a young girl who lived in fourteen different foster care homes over a period of ten years before being adopted as a teenager, Rhodes-Courter now details her life as a college student and young woman. In this remarkable coming-of-age narrative, Rhodes-Courter forges ahead with her life by building new relationships and establishing a career as a motivational speaker.
Haunted by a turbulent childhood, Rhodes-Courter illustrates the healing powers of love and a young woman’s emotional strength, as she shares with readers the struggles she navigated while coming to terms with her past.
- Having been bounced from one foster care home to another as a child, Ashley is adopted as a teen. Discuss the circumstances that lead to her attending college and her experiences as a college student. In what ways did she grow while in college? What opportunities and insights did college provide? Discuss the people she met in college and the impact they had on her life.
- Throughout her memoir, Ashley references her mother. Discuss her feelings about her mother. How do her feelings change over time, and what events impact her thinking about her mother? Chapter Seven is called “Divorcing My Mother.” Discuss the impact of this chapter on Ashley’s life.
- Who is Erick and how does he become a part of Ashley’s life? How does Ashley’s past impact her relationship with Erick? How does Erick respond to her turbulent background?
- Ashley learns that her uncle Sammie is to be released from prison where he was held for second degree murder, and the family is holding a welcome home party for him. She decides to attend. Why do you think she agrees to go? Why does she take Erick? What impact does this visit have on her?
- Ashley has a half sister named Autumn. Discuss their relationship. How does it change over time and what factors contribute to this change?
- Having had a chaotic childhood, Ashley does not trust others easily. In what way does she feel vulnerable? What experiences help her learn to trust?
- Describe Ashley’s wedding. Why do you think she chose the title “My Splashy Wedding” to describe the event? What impact does her mother’s behavior have on her?
- Ashley details her struggle with her weight. How does she realize she is overweight? What factors does she contribute to her weight gain? What decisions does she make to take charge of her health?
- Why do Ashley and Erick choose to become foster parents? Describe the process they go through in order to be eligible. Discuss their experiences as foster parents and how it has greatly impacted them, particularly Ashley.
- Ashley writes, “My strength turned out to be talking to the moms who were considering surrendering their children for adoption.” Why did Ashley view this as a strength?
- Ashley cares for a number of infants and children and gives birth to her own son, Ethan, and another son, Andrew. Discuss how she first comes to know Skyler and why she wants to adopt him.
- During the adoption process, Ashley made many lifelong friends and received help from dedicated professionals. In her closing paragraphs to this sequel, she writes, “I no longer fear the unexpected.” Discuss her growth from a child who feared the unknown to a young confident woman, empowered to care for herself, her family, and others around her.
- Conduct a short investigation of the foster care system in your community. What processes are in place to care for children in need? What steps do individuals need to go through to be screened and trained to provide care for children in the foster care system? Discuss ways in which you and others you know can contribute to the needs of children in the foster care system.
- Compile a list of community resources that can be shared with parents, other family members, and the community that provide information to help children in need. Develop an online website and/or brochure using this information.
- Develop an annotated bibliography of ten or more nonfiction books, memoirs, fiction, and film that address children in need—children living in foster homes, abusive environments, and/or poverty. Prepare one resource from your annotated bibliography and deliver a book talk to the group. What compels you to identify this additional resource? Why is it an important contribution to the literature on children in need?
Composition Ideas: A) Think of a time when you felt lonely and compose a short narrative, poem, or essay expressing your feelings. What helped you work through this challenging time? B) Identify a place where you go for solitude, and compose a narrative, poem, or essay describing this place or the impact this place has on your emotional well-being. You may wish to draw or paint a picture.
Guide written by Pam B. Cole, Associate Dean and Professor of English Education and Literacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA.
This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.