Allison's Book Bag

The Boy Who Carried Bricks by Alton Carter

Posted on: April 21, 2016

The Boy Who Carried Bricks is a sad and inspirational true story by Alton Carter about his years as a foster child. It’s sad because of the horror Carter experienced during his formative years, but equally inspirational because of how Carter stayed true to himself even while the rest of his family fell apart. The Boy Who Carried Bricks will enlighten you about the realities of the foster care system, as well as pull on your heartstrings.

Anyone who reads The Boy Who Carried Bricks will not fail to question how terrible our society sometimes treats children. In a straightforward and honest narrative, Carter describes how he grew up with a life full of fear, hunger, and loneliness. When his mom finally married, after dating and bearing children to five different men, the guy turned out to be violent. More than once, the step-dad physically abused the family. Life should have better after the step-dad left, but the mom didn’t seem to know how to care for anyone. She spent more hours drowning her sorrows and partying than acting like a mom. As a result, the five boys often had nothing but moldy food to eat and at times showed at school with roaches in their ears. Even when the grandparents step into help, life doesn’t really improve, and Carter often felt that he had no one to turn to for comfort or protection. As you can see, the novel makes for a tough read, and even worse happens in the first few foster homes that Carter lands. The matter-of-fact tone, however, kept me from putting the book aside for lighter fare. I had to know what would happen to this young person who seemed determined to succeed, against all odds.

Anyone who reads The Boy Who Carried Bricks should also not fail to feel inspired by the hope that Carter carried within him. Even in the unhealthiest situations, Carter held onto the belief that normalcy could be his. When living with his grandparents, he also often encountered his uncles. One of them in particular turned sadistic when drunk. Yet he could also treat the five boys to an evening of stories and trademark greasy fries, an event which Carter viewed as a happy time. Fortunately, along the way, he also met kind and caring individuals who were to have a long-lasting impact on him. One of them was an elderly lady for whom he mowed her lawn and performed other summer chores. She believed that Carter should improve his reading and so provided him daily with a newspaper article. At the end of the summer, she gave him a novel to read too. Her pride in him helped him believe more in himself. Eventually, Carter encountered enough positive influences that Carter decided to take charge of his own life by contacting the Department of Human Services himself. His tributes to others allowed me as a reader to keep faith in a book that often felt full of dark times.

My final commendation of The Boy Who Carried Bricks involves the subtle lessons that Carter imparts. One that stands out is an incident with a teacher whom Carter accused of picking on him due to his color. In reality, she simply wanted him to do his best, but he kept rebuffing her because of how alone he felt in his troubles. Through her continual affirmation of his abilities, he came to realize that he needed to take responsibility for his own actions. If he pursued a life of crime, this was his own choice and had nothing to do with his being a foster child, poor, or black. And if he wanted to experience love and all the good things in life, he needed to work for them.

According to Carter’s introduction in The Boy Who Carried Bricks, there are over 400,000 children in the United States living without permanent families. In writing his story, Carter hoped to make a difference in the life of readers. He wanted adults to be the best they could and to know they have the opportunity to give young people a chance to believe in themselves. He also wanted young people to know that they can become whatever they dare to dream. The Boy Who Carried Bricks should motivate anyone who reads it.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

4 Responses to "The Boy Who Carried Bricks by Alton Carter"

Thank you so much for sharing Alton Carter’s true story THE BOY WHO CARRIED BRICKS with your readers and recommending that they read it. It has lessons and hope for us all. All the best, Jeanne Devlin, editor, The RoadRunner Press

You’re welcome! I also posted my review to our local school district’s library media multicultural website and recommended The Boy Who Carried Bricks for inclusion in their diversity collection.

Families are not what they should be anymore. People having children that don’t want them or aren’t able to support them. It’s a shame. Many are lost, it’s good that some aren’t.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Reading about the children who we don’t lose helps me keep faith in people. Thanks for regularly visiting my posts. 🙂

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