"Spilled Milk" by K.L. Randis

“I had been here before; the peaceful charade of chatting and laughing through superficial topics as my life was in turmoil.”― K.L. Randis, Spilled Milk

When my friend Melissa (Ha!  I just realized that two of the people I trust for book recommendations are named Melissa!) suggested this book, I initially shuddered inside and said, "I've been avoiding this one."  I'd seen it and read some reviews of it.  I knew I would love it, but I also knew it would be a painful read.   I ended up texting her the next day with "I just finished Spilled Milk." 


I was correct.  It was a painful read.  But it was also breathtakingly beautiful and had me captivated from start to finish.   The title is based on the moment Brooke realizes her family isn't "normal."  She's at her boyfriend's house and his little brother spills milk at the dinner table.  She instinctively jumps up to protect him as she does for her own siblings when violence is imminent,  and realizes she's metaphorically sucked all the air out of the room when the entire family looks  at her like she's crazy.   I won't provide spoilers, but the character development Randis pours into Brooke grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the final word is read.   She is brave, tenacious, and so so soooooo resilient!   


My reason for avoiding this book was because as a seasoned educator, I've seen my fair share of students struggling to survive similar situations and for some of them, I wasn't able to help as much as I wanted or they needed.   I personally think anyone who teaches kids of any age should read this one.   Being an educator is such a massive responsibility, and this book drives home the fact that a single relationship with a significant adult in their life can turn into a lifeline that changes the entire trajectory for a student living in silent secrecy and fear. 


Many people don't realize that it's not always the kids who wear their trauma on the outside that are being abused.  Often, it's the straight-A, "perfect" school leaders that are hiding secret pain.     I'm not saying this to make people over-analyze their students or jump to irrational conclusions.  I'm just stressing the point that for some kids, their teacher can be the love and light that they need. 


“Professionals don’t know what gives some people a resilient personality,” Dr. Russ said, pacing the classroom. “You can have four people go through something exceptionally traumatic, and one of those people will have a higher resiliency to coping. They won’t turn to drugs or rebel against society, they’ll seek the positive in any given situation. Now the interesting thing is the argument whether resiliency is nature or nurture. Are we born with it, or is it taught to us?” I hung on his every word, half expecting Midge to bound through the door and tell me she had told the professor my life story. He rattled on. “These children usually have strong mentors from a young age that they can build their strength on, they have some kind of talent or outlet they use to channel their frustrations or stress, and they’re intelligent.” He tapped the side of his head. “Scientists and psychologists have been studying the phenomena for decades. Just what makes one child so susceptible to crumbling under situations another one simply rises above?”

― K.L. Randis, Spilled Milk


I also recommended Three Little Words, and Three More Words, by Ashely Rhodes-Courter.  Both are powerful memoirs that every educator should read!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.