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The Girl Who Rode a Shark

The Girl Who Rode a Shark

And Other Stories of Daring Women
by Ailsa Ross
illustrated by Amy Blackwell
edition:Hardcover
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My Story Starts Here

My Story Starts Here

Voices of Young Offenders
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Ian, 17

My trouble with the law started in grade four. Me and some friends started fires in our town.

There were some caves in the areas I was living. We liked to explore the caves and we thought it would be great to have campfires there. We gathered up some branches off dead trees and made a fire and it was fine.

We might have been okay if we’d left it there. I mean, we should have known more about fire safety, but I don’t think we were bothering anybody. But we decided to keep building fires and to build bigger ones.

It’s against the law to start fires like that. People caught on that it was us because we needed paper to build these fires. We would go to those free-newspaper and free-magazine stands and empty these out and run down the street with armloads of these things. It was a small town. People knew us, got to wondering what we were doing, put two and two together and called the police...

I got into more serious trouble in grade nine. I didn’t like school and skipped it all the time. This one day we skipped classes the whole day then came back into the school at the end of the day to catch the school bus home. We were walking through the halls, goofing around, and we walked right into the principal. We were high. The principal searched us, found our joints and rolling papers. ...

That principal never liked me. The police didn’t charge us but the principal suspended us — two months! — for just that little bit of drugs. After the suspension was over, he said he didn’t want us back in his school.

My parents split up when I was young. It was not a good break-up. Lots of yelling and fighting. It was bad. I went with Mom but she had a breakdown so I couldn’t stay with her. Dad couldn’t take me. He was breaking too under the strain of everything. He didn’t know how to care for me, or maybe he knew how but knew that he couldn’t, or maybe he just didn’t want to....

When I was sixteen I got charged with B and E. I got put on probation for a year and I had to spend a week in Open Custody. Open Custody was not really open because I couldn’t leave. They set the bedtime, and it was very early. You couldn’t use knives. They had very specific rules and if you broke one of those rules they wouldn’t let you play video games or go outside.

I did a lot more B and E’s than the one I was charged with. They were all about getting me money for weed. Me and my friends would walk around town looking for easy places to get into, going into cars that weren’t locked or shops or houses or whatever. I never thought I would get caught...

I’ve been in five foster homes. My foster mom, the one I have now, says I can stay with her even after I turn eighteen. I have a job now at a place that replaces car windshields and I like doing that. Maybe they’ll keep me on.

I have this thing in my head that tells me that as soon as something good happens, it’s all going to get ruined. It’s hard not to give up on myself. I feel like there’s something deep inside me that won’t let me do anything good...

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