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Shifty by Lynn E. Hazen

Shifty (2008)

by Lynn E. Hazen

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Tender, touching and funny, Shifty explores the vulnerability, trust, bravery and sense of humor required to create family. ( )
  KristinAkerHowell | Aug 15, 2015 |
Tender, touching and funny, Shifty explores the vulnerability, trust, bravery and sense of humor required to create family. ( )
  KristinAkerHowell | Aug 15, 2015 |
Reviewed by Amber Gibson for TeensReadToo.com

Abandoned on a Greyhound bus just days after he was born, Soli has a lot working against him. Luckily, this plucky 15-year-old seems to have found a real home at long last.

His foster mom, Martha, is a shining example of a woman whose heart is in the right place. Though she does not have much money, she dedicates her life to taking care of Soli, a sweet little girl named Sissy, and Thaddeus, a baby boy born addicted to cocaine. Martha has always seen the good in these kids, and she doesn't believe that people should be defined by labels like "foster kid" and "crack baby."

The social workers and people who run the foster care system never give Soli the benefit of a doubt, filling his files with untrue information about how dangerous and suspicious he is. However, Soli doesn't conform to their low expectations. He loves his foster family and never shirks his responsibilities as a big brother and son.

Perhaps driving Martha's van without a license isn't legal, but Soli is a good driver and his intentions are pure - he drives to buy groceries or pick up Sissy when Martha cannot. Still, driving without a license is risky business. Driving home bag ladies, escaping tow trucks, and having tomatoes thrown at Martha's white van are par for the course. Anything to avoid being stopped by authorities, where he might get in serious trouble for driving sans license.

Soli's biggest dilemma right now is Sheila, the new social worker who is determined to shut Martha down. Sheila is just looking for any little slip-up to file a complaint against Martha, so Soli and Sissy are on their best behavior. Martha is the mother they never had and they will do anything to remain living with her. Who knows what kind of family they might be placed with if they are thrown back into the system?

Written with heart and compassion, SHIFTY is a fun and fast-paced read. Readers will be rooting for Soli from page one, indignant at the judgmental people he is forced to put up with and sympathetic to the hardships that he is forced to endure. Lynn E. Hazen reveals a world that most readers could never have imagined, and Soli is an optimistic and courageous character that readers will identify with. After reading SHIFTY, you will want to adopt a foster child yourself, providing a loving home that all children deserve. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 13, 2009 |
Feel-good book.

I loved this book; it hit just the right note between Soli's struggle to find roots in the foster system and his determination to help his foster Mum, Martha.
Soli is a fantastic character from page one. He's 15, far from perfect, but his heart is in the right place. His "sister", Sissy, is 7 and they have a "baby brother", Thaddeus, who they renamed Chance.
In spite of The efforts of the new social worker to split them all up and close Martha down, Soli is determined to keep hold of his new family.
Sad in parts, happy in others and full of life, this is a great read.
Definitely recommended. ( )
  DubaiReader | Aug 3, 2009 |
RATING: 4.5 out of 5

Shifty is the kind of kid that I have always admired, gutsy out of necessity, but a kind soft heart just looking for a place to call home. And given a chance and a little extra room, he will most of the time make the right decision even if it seems unusual to the rest of us.

Ms. Hazen has given a voice to foster kids and the majority of the people who care for them, not only those in San Francisco but all over the country.

Shifty is a kid that might work on the nerves of teachers at school even though you can’t call him bad. He is just resourceful and probably more “street wise” than the majority of his teachers, but only because he has had to be for so long.

As this story starts, Shifty is finally in a foster home that is as close to normal as he can remember, and includes Mother Martha, little sister Sissy, and baby Thaddeus (aka Chance) two other hard to place foster kids. Sissy barely speaks at first due to prolonged physical abuse, and Baby Chance is a newborn crack addicted baby that required almost all of Martha’s time. The antics of Shifty with tagalong Sissy are “haha” funny and engaging because of his ingenuity and guts, and will have you laughing right up to the end. And that is an important aspect in this book, which would otherwise depress you because of the plight of not only these kids and their circumstances, but also because of the pressures that are regularly placed on the foster parent trying to just do the “right thing” all the time.

I would recommend this book not only to adults who need to be enlightened but also to middle schoolers and up who need to see how the real world operates for some kids. Understanding usually brings about compassion. Thank you, Ms. Hazen for giving us a look into the foster care system with an eye towards hope. ( )
1 vote Donura1 | Sep 7, 2008 |
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Fifteen-year-old Soli, nicknamed Shifty, keeps getting into trouble without trying, but as he strives to trust and be trusted, he grows in appreciation of his foster family and works toward putting his past behind him.

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