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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite

The Home for Friendless Children

C.L. Olsen

A captivating, wild ride of an adventure! Sometimes the best stories are true.

Abandoned on a remote mountain in eastern Pennsylvania by his father at age five, and discarded at an orphanage by his mother a few years later, this is the remarkable true story of one boy's impenetrable resilience and courageous hope; holding onto his dreams in the face of heartbreaking loss, loneliness and betrayal.

Little Robbie Olsen, his two brothers, sister, and mother would be saved from starving to death by the kindness of the Mennonite family who farmed the hills far below. Forced to leave their mountaintop home, they would walk fifteen miles into town, carrying what little they had in paper bags, finding lodging in a two-room apartment above Arlene and Ray's Bar.

Later at an orphanage in Reading, Pennsylvania, Rob would learn to survive and navigate, nimbly moving ahead even as his siblings suffered the effects of abuse and neglect. Against nearly impossible odds, and armed with nothing more than blind will, a deep love of adventure and insatiable curiosity, he would find meaning and joy, success, and finally, a place of belonging in the world.

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