Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: Castaway Kid

I haven't posted a book review on here in quite some time, but this one deserves a little shout-out.

My mom is a crazy-avid reader and devours books quicker than anyone I know.  She had collected a few good ones for me to read during our first looong flight to Bulgaria.  I opened this one just to take a peek, and became completely hooked after reading the first page. I couldn't save it for the flight; instead I finished it this week!

Castaway Kid is a memoir written by Rob Mitchell as he retells the story of his childhood as a kid who was cast off into the "system." Basically, Rob was placed in an orphanage at the age of three and aged out of the U.S orphanage system as a teenager. The story is true, although that's hard to believe as you read the horrible memories of his childhood experiences.

For those of us in the adoption community, we have read about the grim outcomes for children who age out of the social system in any country. The statistics are not good for the survival of most of these unfortunate children.  They are vulnerable to prostitution, child trafficking, mental illness, drug use, suicide, and early death.  All these issues are addressed in this novel, but Rob is a child who actually survives despite his unfortunate experiences.  You will cry as you read his heartbreaking story.

As an adoptive mother, this book really helped me better understand some of the orphan behaviors we have been warned about and prepared for in our adoption education classes. A few behaviors included in this story are difficulties with trust, manipulation, rage, aggression, abuse to animals, self-soothing behaviors (rocking), bullying, and bed-wetting. This story allows the reader to get inside the author's head at different ages during his childhood; this really helped me understand the "why" behind some of the disturbing behaviors that institutionalized children sometimes exhibit.

One thing that stuck out to me after reading this book is that no matter what age Robbie (Rob) was in this novel, he was constantly asking the same questions: "Would he ever be wanted?" and "Would anyone ever love him?"  Whether Robbie was 5 years old or 25 years old, he was always longing for a place to call his home and someone to accept him. 

I have often wondered if Ivelina will be sad about leaving her caretakers and friends at the orphanage she has called home for seven years. We have wondered if she will be mad at us for removing her from her culture and her familiar surroundings, but this story encouraged me to remember that the most important thing for any child is to know the love of a family, to have a safe and dependable place to call home, and to know that they belong in God's family and in their earthly family. These were the things that little Robbie always lacked and always desired for himself. He asserted that it would be better to be homeless and destitute but belong to someone who loved him than to have all the material goods in the world yet have no one who wanted him.

I highly encourage every adoptive parent to read this book! It would be great for moms and dads alike. This book has its disturbing and very sad moments, but I also think it would be appropriate for teens. It could definitely help them understand life from the different perspective of someone who did not grow up with the privilege of a family. The latter half of the book has strong Christian themes, so it could even be used in Christian discussion groups.

Castaway Kid costs about $11 on Amazon and the Kindle edition is $9.99, but you can get used copies much cheaper!  I hope you all enjoy this wonderful adoption story!

Thanks for reading,


  1. Thank you so much for your thoughts on my book, Castaway Kid. I was made aware of your thoughts and wanted to encourage you in loving a kid like I once was.

    In Hope, Rob

  2. Wow! This is the first time the actual author has commented on one of my little book reviews. Thanks so much for your kind words, Rob. I am from Trinity, NC and went to college in Greensboro....pretty close to some of the places you mentioned in your book. Your book was very encouraging to me, and now I have friends who want to read your story as well. Thanks for visiting my blog!


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