Verbal Abuse

call me hope

Call Me Hope

by Gretchen Olson

Little, Brown, & Co., NY 2007

In this novel, twelve-year-old Hope lives with a verbally abusive mother.  Her older brother, Tyler, is sometimes helpful and defends Hope on occasion.  Worked into the plot are the reading of The Diary  of Anne Frank and viewing the film Life is Beautiful.  With these learning experiences, Hope is able to devise a point system to make her life more bearable. She creates a safe space in her closet.  She looks forward to a week of Outdoor School. But…

Enter the adults.  Her social studies teacher, Mr. Hudson, is aware that Hope is struggling at home.  The school counselor knows that Hope’s relationship with her mother is painful.  Hope makes friends with the owners of a second hand store, who also are aware that Hope has problems at home.

All of these members of Hope’s community step in to assist Hope, so that she can attend Outdoor School.  And guess what? Hope’s mother sees the error of her ways and begins to reform.

Verbal abuse is a real issue for children.  As Olson’s book points out, the victims may not be aware that what they live with is abuse. Fortunately, Hope has a school community that is attentive and responsive.

I came from a pair of loving parents who were educated and whose jobs involved early childhood education.  And yet I can still hear my father’s irritated, harsh voice saying, “What is the matter with you?” Abuse? Hmm…maybe not.  But it stuck.

Perhaps the first step is identifying the situation as abusive.  Hope is a smart sixth grader and she has help.  Who will help the others?



*Olson offers educational resources at the end of the novel


Dog Show

On a whim, Pat and I went to the dog show at the Ulster County Fairground.  It was a beautiful, sunny day.  We arrived too late for most of the action, but in enough time to see the finals for the hounds and the toys.

Owners and handlers prepped their contestants with hair dryers and comb-outs. fullsizeoutput_205c               YyM%xOdLRPOfn8RTKb7%mQ

Papillon knows how to pose.                   Pomeranian all fluffed up.

chinese crested  Chinese crested hairless reminds me of Count Chocula.


The poodle gets a spritz of hairspray.  This was the winner of the best in toy breeds.

basset poseBasset hound gets its photo taken.

2 greyhoundsGreyhounds wait their turn.

tired Irish wolfThis Irish wolfhound is hot and tired.

weimar poseThe Weimaraner’s owner said that dogs of this breed love to be close to people.  For me, the best part of the afternoon was meeting this dog.  My family had a beautiful Weimaraner when I was little. She was well-trained, thanks to my father, and so gentle.  I remember lying on the floor with Maida, my head on her chest, while I played with her soft ears.  She never growled or snapped or moved away, no matter what I did.

akc dog bookIn the years of my childhood, we had a much older version of this book.  The cover was black.  I pored over the photos of the different breeds until I could recognize most of them.

And last Sunday, I got to see many of them in person.