Castaway Kid is an emotionally charged and beautifully written autobiography of Rob Mitchell’s life in Chicago from his youth to his adult years. Abandoned at a the Covenant Children’s Home when he was just 3 years old, Rob was one of the few kids that spent their entire lives in the home without going into foster care.
Although too young to understand what was really happening, Rob had plenty of hope that his mother would one day return for him, or that his beloved grandmother Gigi, who would visit Rob every Saturday, would take him in. As Rob grew older, he grew more disillusioned and less trustful of those around him. Nola, the houseparent for the Little Boys became a mother-figure for Rob during his early life. Rob’s mother would make periodic visits, but they were chaotic at best and only severed the gap between herself and her son.
Dealing with bullies in the home, and family did not, or could not, take him in, Rob built a lot of rage. He lashed out at other students, “Townies”, who had real parents to go home to. He rebelled against his own family in Atlanta by growing his hair long, and wearing a beard, two things considered taboo in the 1950’s and early 60’s. Rob became a womanizer, and also avoided all the religious influence the group home tried to instill in the boys. It wasn’t until he went to a summer camp, where he met one girl that seemed to turn his life around. Full of peace and patience, she did not judge Rob and she tried to guide him towards giving faith another try. The second half of the book focuses mostly on Rob’s struggle to build a connection to God and find a purpose for himself. His inner struggle with building this relationship with God starts out just as difficult as Rob’s attempt to build a relationship with his estranged family members. His faith and transformation from a rebel child, to a moral man happened when he went on a year long missions trip to Africa.
Rob Mitchell’s story is heartbreaking, but his endurance and determination to make a better life for himself is honorable and inspiring to read. Rob finally found happiness and love, and now has a family of his own.
FINAL GRADE: A
R.B. Mitchell Tyndale House Publishers, 2007 ISBN 9781589974340 249 pages