“Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read.” -- John Milton, Areopagitica (1644)

Three Little Words

Three Little Words - Ashley Rhodes-Courter Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


This is a deeply personal chronicle of the author's nine tumultuous years spent in 14 foster homes mainly in South Carolina and Florida. Born to a teenage mother, she was taken from her before she even turned 4 years old. Then she was juggled by a constant parade of caseworkers and so-called "mothers" before she eventually arrived at a secure and loving home at age 12.

During those 9 years of her troubled childhood, Ashley felt frustrated, abandoned, confused, neglected, and trapped. The chaos in overcrowded foster homes seemed overwhelming. For example, at the Mosses’ home, they enforced usually harsh discipline, including making children drink hot sauce. There, Ashley and other foster children suffered from hunger, manipulation and humiliation.

She does a good job of reporting her experiences from an innocent child’s perspective, but her narrative also shows interwoven complexity.

The three little words in the title were not "I love you," but "I guess so", taken from words that Ashley spoke at her adoption proceedings, when she was asked by the judge for her consent. She simply reply, “I guess so,” indicating her tenuous faith in not only in the system but also people in general.

Ultimately, her leap of faith paid off in her new home, where she was encouraged to tell her story as well as filing a class action suit against the Mosses.

Ashley’s heartfelt story exemplifies hope, resilience, and the healing power of love.


This book challenges an often overwhelmed and failing foster care system. I suppose it would be a pleasant read for any social worker involved in child welfare, foster care, or adoption, since this book offers great insight into the mind of children in transition. It would also be helpful to those considering adoption or fostering.

Please continue on to my review for the 2015 sequel, Three More Words.

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