There's a point in this book where the author returns from vacation to find a letter from Sheila, the subject of this book; Sheila writes that she's planning to commit suicide. The letter had been sent at about the same time as Hayden had left for vacation. She tries to figure out how she can find out whether Sheila was still alive, but can't think how she would phrase the question to the staff of Sheila's group home; in the end, she does nothing and gets caught up in her other clients and activities. Reading this, I thought, "Call the group home, tell them Sheila had written to you, and ask if she can have visitors. Even if they don't tell you whether Sheila committed suicide, they'll at least tell you whether she's there."
I've realized that's the thing that bugs me about Hayden - she has all this formal training, but so much of the time she doesn't know how to react to a situation. A student breaks down? She sits and watches instead of reacting. A child disappears? She and a coworker stand and argue for 15 minutes about whose fault it is before looking for him. So much of the success Hayden has with clients in these books seems to be made up of lucky breaks and stumbling onto a method that works. In fact, she admits as much in several of the books.
That being said, I enjoyed reading this book. Hayden originally had Sheila as a student at the age of 6 (a story written about in her book "One Child"); "The Tiger's Child" retells that story, then picks up when Hayden reunites with Sheila eight years later. In the interim, Sheila has had a pretty rough life; her addict father basically pimps her out to support his habit, she moves from one foster home to another, etc. Hayden is operating a summer program for some of her child clients and offers Sheila the chance to work as an aide in the program. Sheila's interactions with the children and with Hayden, and her coming to terms with all the things that have happened to her, make up the rest of the book.
Reading Hayden's books, and her accounts of the horrible things that have happened to these children, is emotionally exhausting. The fact that people, often the children's parents themselves, could do such terrible things, makes me incredibly sad. I'm thankful that there are people like the author who are driven by a need to help these children work through the severe emotional trauma they've been subjected to.