The chronicle of a family’s first year with an almost impossible foster child. “Mike” is no poster kid for foster care. Flung in and out of foster homes before the Miniters muster up the courage to take him on, he is such a severely troubled boy that he comes their way via the Harbour Program, which places mentally ill or refractory children and provides a comprehensive training and support system for their new “professional parents.” Mike, for example, wets his bed, breaks things, and talks nonstop, and very loudly, whenever he’s feeling nervous. Antagonistic when confronted with a difficult choice, he swears like a sailor. And he’s heavily medicated. When someone suggests that he help out with the shared domestic chores, he replies, “I hate this fucking family.” Despite the inevitable strain he places on Sue and Richard Miniters, they persevere, and gradually Mike begins ever so slowly to heal and even blossom. It’s a triumphant story in no small part because Miniter so willingly admits his and other family members’ misgivings, fears, and anger about having Mike around full-time. (Miniter’s college-age sons initially ignore Mike despite their parents’ pleas.) And Mike, in the end, is not miraculously “cured.” Not at all. For though he improves, he remains a challenged boy, even after the Miniters decide to adopt him for keeps at the close of the experimental year. In choosing honesty over hype, Miniter as author provides a clear picture of the children who need parents like himself and the families who rescue them. Candid and breathtakingly hopeful.