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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
"Seven Tears" is the story of Birch, a young woman, who was abused by her grandfather when she was six years old. Her mother had also been abused as a child, and her attempts to get help had resulted in her being considered a drama queen who was acting out for attention. Birch's grandfather was a stern disciplinarian which made Birch scared of doing anything about his behavior. Birch's father was dead, but his mother, grandma Jackie, was always there for Birch. It wasn't enough though, and Birch ended up pregnant at 13. After that, Birch had to live with cruel bullying at school, and she began to hurt herself. She was eventually placed in foster care. The first placement was a failure, but the second was a resounding success.
Sheila Joyner makes Birch into a real person that the reader cares about in this moving tale about a child raised in a dysfunctional family. Unlike Ruth, the other foster taken in by Jan and Tim, Birch, is able to find her way out of the pain of her past. It is fun to watch as Jan gives Birch the confidence she needs to get her first job at the stroller counter, where she discovers her love of tinkering and design. "Seven Tears" addresses issues that many families choose to hide, deny or dismiss as "acting out" or being a "drama queen". These issues are quite real, however; and Birch's story is all the more important for showing how a life that seems destined for tragedy can be turned around with love and care.