Joey is not your typical social worker. He burns down houses to solve bureaucratic deadlocks, steals to get his clients bigger welfare cheques, and lies if it will help prevent his supervisor from intruding in the lives of his young clients. Joey knows all too well what it feels like to be a client. In and out of foster homes, his father dead, his mother an abusive emotional wreck, Joey puts his talents as a juvenile delinquent to good use, even when he’s locked up in a secure detention centre. Fortunately for Joey, there’s one youth worker, a former boxer with his own secrets to hide, who inspires Joey to finish his education. Still the delinquent at heart, Joey sets out to get revenge on the system that he believes failed him and his family. Joey’s plan for revenge may have worked, except buried in old agency files he learns that his family has many secrets yet untold and that the lives of social workers are more complicated than they seem to the children in their care. The Social Worker is a controversial and provocative story of what it means to reach out to the most vulnerable, set amidst the hidden world of those whose motivations to help can be as difficult to understand as the systems for which they work.
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Michael Ungar, PhD, is a prize-winning fiction writer and among the most influential social work authors and speakers on parenting issues in North America. His nine nonfiction books include The We Generation and Too Safe For Their Own Good. His work has been the subject of cover stories in magazines and he is a regular contributor to radio and television. His blog can be read on Psychology Today’s website. In 2010 he was the recipient of the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award for Nova Scotia. The Social Worker is his first novel.Currently, he is a Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University in Halifax where he directs the Resilience Research Centre. His website is www.michaelungar.com.