ASCS Interviews Local Author Kristine Scarrow about her book “Throwaway Girl”
Kristine Scarrow is the author of four young adult novels, including The Gamer’s Guide to Getting the Girl. She works as the writer-in-residence at St. Paul’s Hospital as part of the Healing Arts Program. She also teaches workshops on writing as healing in the community. She is a student in the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan. Kristine lives in Saskatoon.
“This month ASCS has chosen to shine a light on Permanency and the important role it plays for children and youth. With this in mind, could you tell us a little about your published book Throwaway Girl?”
Throwaway Girl is the story of Andy, a teen living in a group home who is about to age out of the foster care system. It chronicles her life in and out of the system and how she navigates adulthood and living on her own. Andy has experienced abuse, homelessness, grief, self-harm, and other monumental challenges.
Although the book is fiction, it is a tragic reality for many children in our society. It was a difficult book to write because the challenges that Andy faces are some of the worst things that can happen to someone. By writing the book with flashbacks to Andy’s past, I wanted to give readers a sense of what she’s been through without her living through it all in “real time” so-to-speak. Part of the detachment, I think, comes from having Andy tell the story through her perspective. As desperate as she is for love, she does seem guarded. And I think this is true of children who’ve been through the same challenges as she has.
“What does this book mean to you and why did you feel compelled to write about the main character, Andy’s often painful but resilient experience?”
I’d been writing in one form or another since I was a young girl, so at my core it had always been my dream to be a writer. My educational background was in Psychology and Social Work, and I’ve always had a passion for working with the marginalized in our society, which has influenced my writing in many ways. I feel very fortunate to have been able to meld two passions of mine. This was my first published novel, so it will always have a special place in my heart. It was published in 2014 and unfortunately, it feels as timely now as it did then. In fact, with the pandemic there is likely an even greater need for resources and assistance, and I feel a real fear that there are families who may not be getting the help and support they need during this time.
I wanted Andy’s story to shed light on what life is like for children who feel like they have nothing. The voice of Andy is the voice of every child who desires a better life for themselves, even if they don’t know how to make that happen. It’s the voice of every child who feels unloved and unwanted or who feels that they have nobody.
“What do you hope both young adult and adult readers can take away from their experience in reading Throwaway Girl?”
I hope that readers can take away a message of hope. Our struggles may not be the same as Andy’s, but we all must overcome obstacles in our lives. I’m interested in how people overcome the odds – the idea that our strength lies in ourselves, not in our circumstances. I hope that readers recognize their worth and find their own inner strength for whatever they may be dealing with. I hope it gives readers the courage to open up about their own stories. Sometimes the support needed to heal can come from unexpected places.
I hope it also opens up dialogue about these self-professed “throwaway kids” and how we can better support these children so that they can believe in a brighter future for themselves than the life they’ve experienced.
“Do you wish to share any personal thoughts about the important role Permanency plays in the lives of children and youth? (Adoption being one form of permanency in addition to kinship care, PSI, guardianship etc.)”
Children in foster care face a huge loss of control in their lives. They’re at the mercy of other people and what is decided for them. Despite being thrust from home to home, Andy’s perseverance and her desire for a better life ultimately allow her to rise above her circumstances. Her character demonstrates the courage, determination, and strength that children in foster care possess. Everyone wants a place to belong – to feel safe and secure, a place to thrive in. Permanency can provide this and make all the difference in a child’s life.
ASCS wishes to express our gratitude to Kristine Scarrow for providing an inside look at the writing of her published work; Throwaway Girl. This book is available through the Carol Bothwell Resource Library at the Adoption Support Centre of Saskatchewan.