Rating: 4 / 5
Nobody would be jealous of Steve Pemberton’s childhood: his earliest memories are of being abandoned for a day at a foster home. He then lives with the Robinsons, where he is mentally and physically abused. Although he originally thought that Betty Robinson and her husband were caring and loved him, he quickly realizes that they don’t actually care for him, but took him in for the extra money provided by the state. Throughout it all, Steve has always wondered who is biological parents are, and what happened that made them put him in foster care. Against the odds, Steve succeeds in graduating from college, and as a young adult, decides to find his biological family.
A Chance in the World is a powerful story of succeeding in life. Quite frankly, I am amazed that Steve did not go down the path of crime and drugs. His memories of living with the Robinsons are heartbreaking, and at many points, challenging to read. Instead of primarily focusing on the abusive environment, though, Steve highlights the people who helped him in ways they probably didn’t realize, from Mrs. Levin, who gave him books to read, to the construction crew, who taught him camaraderie, a strong work ethic, and basic do-it-yourself skills.
The first half of A Chance in the World is about Steve’s childhood, and the second half about his journey to find his biological family. I don’t want to give anything away, but needless to say it was not an easy path for Steve. The question of his identity has always lingered in Steve’s mind, and finding his biological family provides closure, knowledge, and a sense of being.
In the end: This is a great story for those who seem a little lost, or those who feel like they don’t really fit in. A Chance in the World is also a good read for those who want a narrative on the foster care system from someone who went through it. I absolutely recommend this book because it shows what the human spirit can endure, and the power of education and perseverance.