For my independent reading project, I chose the novel They Cage The Animals At Night, by, Jennings Michael Burch. This is the incredible story of a young boy's extremely painful childhood. It is a true story of a child's loss, and pain, but more importantly it is a story of survival and triumph. Like the cover says, it's truly a heart-wrenching story. This novel is exceptionally powerful and stays with you long after you finish. .
This novel tells the story about the shattering childhood of Jennings Burch. It takes place in the late 1940's early 1950's in New York City. Jennings has been through many things most people could never even imagine. His mother was too sick to care for him and left him in a series of orphanages, foster homes, and institutions. Back then, the orphanages that Jennings attended were run by nuns who used cruel punishment to discipline the children. Life in these orphanages was unbarring, brutal, strict, and Jennings was unable to do anything about it. He goes through hell and back in different homes and with many different foster parents. He has no clothes, and there's no food the most of the time. He couldn't even rely on his family and friends because they all abandoned him during the harsh times that he needed them the most. A stuffed dog that was given to him at one of the orphanages was the only friend that stayed with him through it all. "Doggie" was only thing he could count on during his lost childhood. At one of Jennings's foster homes, he attends school and befriends the bus driver, Sal. After school Sal would help Jennings with all of his problems, and they would talk and share stories. Sal became a father figure in Jennings's life, and the only person he was able to feel comfortable with. Unfortunately Jennings eventually had to ride on another bus and wouldn't be able to see Sal anymore. The climax in this story is when Jennings and Sal meet again at the zoo.