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Hand-Me-Down Dreams

This is the story of four adolescent girls who seem headed for reform school. All the girls live in poor families, headed by overwhelmed mothers with few resources. A young social worker and her street-smart assistant bring the girls together as a group. The girls become friends. Over time, many of the girls are able to separate from their mothers and start independent lives of their own.

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"Hand-Me-Down Dreams is Carol Peacock's account of four adolescent girls who seemed headed for reform school when she met them in 1972. Miss Peacock, a young social worker, believed that group and individual therapy for both the girls and their mothers could interrupt the destructive cycle...
Providing Miss Peacock's most eloquent and terrifying imagine, one of the girls describes the 'pastime" known as 'doing the dryers.' You go to the laundromat with a friend. You curl yourself up inside one of the dryers and signal to your friend to close the door. She starts the dryer and you jolt around in that punishing, painful cycle until you can stand no more; then you bang on the door for release.
This courageous intelligent book proposes that the cycle of rage and emptiness can be broken. Miss Peacock is no Pollyanna and she has some defeats to record, but her work proves the "the general cycle of trapped mother bearing trapped daughter (is) not inevitable."
   —The New York Times Book Review (Read the full review)

"In 1972, Peacock began working with Boston-area young people in trouble with the law. Here she describes several years of counseling four teenage girls, all child of single, welfare dependent mothers in a predominantly white working class community, all inadequately nurtured by their mothers, who themselves had been denied childhood by becoming pregnant at an early age. What Peacock found in each case was an engulfing mutual dependence, forged and fostered by both mother and daughter. Working with the girls and eventually their mothers, Peacock was able to help three of the four girls learn to cope with life and develop a mutually independent relationship with their mothers. What emerges from this moving, informative account is a definite sense of an alternative, humanistic type of social work based on caring and friendship as well as counseling and therapy."

"....Peacock is convincing in describing the 'hand me down' cycle to which the girls nearly succumbed. All the stories do not have happy endings, though in some cases Peacock was able to help not only the girl herself but the mother who had been without direction for so long. A deft evocation that places the reader squarely at the scene."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"Combined case histories and personal narrative, a young social worker describes her efforts to help four delinquent teenage girls. Street language and unvarnished experiences make this best suited to mature readers."
   —School Library Journal

"Author tells tale of leading daughters to independence...."
   —Associated Press

"This book tells us what an intelligent, giving, tenacious attentiveness can end up being—the experience of healing. This is a book about the commitment of psychological intelligence to the motions of the human heart. So many young people yearn for a continuing, patient, comprehending human response, and the best possible example of such comes to us right here in Carol Peacock's story—the story of how a ruinous cycle of despair became decisively and redemptively interrupted."
   —Robert Coles, MD, Forward to Hand-Me-Down Dreams

"...a book that reads like a novel but is as true life as the documentary it is: the story of her fierce, patient commitment to change the lives of four 'delinquent' young women. For once, not even the mothers are blamed. This is a book that makes the reader want to cry, laugh, understand—and want to act."
   —Robin Morgan, Contributing Editor Ms. Magazine

"It's a beautiful book, with the authentic ring of sacrifice and struggle. What is most wonderful is that, for once, the victims of injustice win a visible and concrete victory. It is precisely the shot of adrenaline we need..."
   —Jonathan Kozol, Author of Death at an Early Age

"...It is a book about hope and belief and the determination to encounter other persons not as labels, but as human beings."
   —William Ryan, Author of Blaming the Victim

Schocken Books, Hardcover, January 1987, ISBN: 978-0805237610
Schocken Books, Paperback, September 1987, ISBN: 978-0805206784

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