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Diane N. Black
DEAD DOG ROAD - A True Story Into The Dark World Of An Abused Child
IN A SMALL TEXAS TOWN, THE DIRECTOR OF A CHILDREN’S HOME TRIES TO SAVE THREE ADOPTED RUSSIAN CHILDREN LIVING WITH A SADISTIC WOMAN IN THE BACKWOODS OF CANEY HEAD. A heart-stopping story that highlights the failure of the agencies we trust to protect the most vulnerable among us—and a truth more compelling and powerful than we could imagine. Abuse reports from neighbors draw attention to twelve-year-old Alexey who runs away to hide in the woods. The local child protection agency sends the director of the children’s home to visit Alexey and his younger sisters, Anastasia and Svetlana. But despite her compelling report the agency believes the denials of the adoptive mother and leaves the children in the abusive home. Knowing the horrible truth, the director faces one obstacle after another as she tries to find someone to protect the children from the unspeakable. Dead Dog Road—a place where secrets are buried like the injured fighting dogs who are dumped there.
In this startling account, Black, a professional children’s counselor in Texas, narrates her efforts to save three Russian children from an adoptive mother and father that she believes to be abusive. While running Roosevelt House, a home for children, Black receives a call in July 2008 to evaluate an abuse claim and goes on to meet three children: Alexey, Svetlana and Anastasia. The girls fearfully parrot good things about their adoptive mother, but Alexey tells Black that, in truth, they endure horrific abuse. Black believes her and is shocked to discover that, despite hospitalizations, attempts at running away, and reports to Child Protective Services, the kids are returned again and again to the home after the parents undergo Family-Based Safety Services sessions. Black continues to fight for the children, facing relentless obstacles which eventually include arrest and the possible loss of her license.

In her direct and unadorned prose, Black powerfully conveys the frustration she feels when she believes that the very agencies created to help children continue to fail them for inane and trivial reasons. She argues that the pain the children suffer doesn’t seem to register with the officials, whose choices, as presented here, tend toward the farcical at best. As the title suggests, Dead Dog Road plumbs dark acts and motivations, as Black offers unflinching details of accusations of abuse and laments a system that makes it easy to turn a blind eye to such pain.

The author’s persistence in pursuing the case shines through this tense and impassioned narrative, especially as she is herself a struggling single mother bringing up two daughters whom she is frequently forced to leave alone under several situations. Her determination to set up Roosevelt House and the surprising way the help that comes pouring in from unexpected quarters is heartening, a reminder of human decency. This sincere account of one woman’s determination to save three children from abuse is a gripping and edifying read.

Takeaway: A children’s counselor fought to protect three kids from abuse.

Comparable Titles: Freya Barrington’s Known to Social Services, Kathryn Anne Michaels’ Wednesday's Children.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A