Courtney F edited the summary of The Fifth Child Monday, October 11, 2010.
It's the 60's and Harriet and David Lovatt have decided to raise a big family but their fifth child, Ben, has been trouble since the womb. Harriet and the family cannot love this child because he is not normal. Ben doesn't have a conscience; born without the need for love from his family or the ability to socialize, he is a terror to the household. Harriet is convinced to send him to an institution where for a brief time the family is whole again. But Harriet cannot leave her child to die alone like an animal, and so she brings him home. Harriet is emotionally ostracised from her family and society. David cannot understand why Harriet couldn't leave Ben there, for the child is a savage and David made sure to avoid the guilt that came with his child's death sentence in that institution. Harriet is seen as the cause of this abnormal child and blamed for it for the rest of her life. As Ben grows she tries to teach him right from wrong but the child only sees his own basic needs. Harriet threatens Ben with the fear of returning to the institution to stop him from harming other children, the only way she can get through to him. He has killed family pets and injured a girl on the playground, and now he has a group of delinquents that get together at Harriet's house. Harriet believes they are the cause behind the rise in theft and rape in her town, and is only waiting for the day when they will all disappear, Ben among them. If selling her large house moves it along, so be it. This book is about society's role in the raising of a child and how the community opinion changes when that child is different. There is blame, ignorance, and brutal treatment. Who is responsible for this defective child? is the question the community has for these anomalies, when the real question should be how can this child be helped?