Billy Stone, 15, runs away from an abusive foster home -- and ends up in a tough juvenile prison. There he becomes supreme gang leader of a kind that no one has ever seen, ruling through doing the unthinkable, social intelligence, literacy, and raw survival instincts. He is a voracious reader whose refuge and best friends are words on paper. Thanks to a hellish year with a grammar-crazed, English-teaching nun, he knows how to write a sentence. And write he does! In his drive for freedom and a normal life, his most potent weapon is ... literacy. The story is fiction, but the emotions are all to real for thousands of foster kids in juvenile prisons who are marked for failed lives and misery. Billy Stone is one who says, "No thanks," opting instead for freedom, self-fulfillment, family, money, power, and happiness. And through the power of literacy, he gets it all.
Except for three years teaching in Africa (in Kenya and Nigeria), he has always earned his living with words: as a writer and editor for a major educational publishing company; as a senior editor with the Harvard Social Studies Project creating materials for social studies classrooms; as an advertising copywriter producing "copy that sells;"and, finally, operating a one-man direct marketing business. He has also published books about the American family and tennis and written for The New York Times Magazine. State Kid is a labor of love. It took five years to write. Of all that he has written, it is the one work that means the most to him. He spent his childhood in foster care, as did his four younger siblings: Marion, Ruby, Victor, and Reggie. All five siblings grew up as "state kids" without family or even one adult relative. They know what it's like to be alone in the world, unloved, and always wondering why. To foster kids, they say, "Read, write, think, work. You'll get there!"
State Kid Published September 14, 2008