Troubled by Rob Henderson is a memoir of foster care, family, and social class, as explained by Rob Henderson. Henderson grew up in the foster care system in Los Angeles and later went on to graduate from Yale and Cambridge University. Henderson shares what it’s like growing up in foster homes, the impacts of a stable and unstable home, and the differences between upper and lower social classes of America, as he was able to experience both. 


As with many of the books I read, I stumbled across this memoir on a Goodreads list. Without much thought, I marked it as to-read since I’m a sucker for memoirs. When it was available to borrow from my library, I couldn’t even tell you what the book was about; I had to look up it again to see what I was getting into. 

Initially, I enjoyed it. I felt it was raw, and compelling to read this little kid get bounced around between foster homes due to being born to a drug addict mom and a father he never met. As the book progresses, you can see the effects of an unstable childhood come into play as Henderson navigates teenagehood, and what it’s like growing up in a poor, rural town. 

When Henderson reaches adulthood and enters university, the book takes a turn toward the last few chapters. It was no longer a memoir but more of a manifesto. While some of the statistical figures he provided were thought-provoking, it was starting to get angsty and very anti-upper class. It started to give “woe is me” vibes. I will admit, in some parts of his manifesto chapters, I had to pause and reflect on my own luxury beliefs – after all, some of Henderson’s notions of upper-class habits and activities were part of my daily routine. Am I out of touch with marginalized, lower-class individuals? I personally don’t think so. 

Overall, despite the final chapters that became a manifesto, I enjoyed the book. The pace was good; the writing was decent; and it flowed very nicely. It instills the message that family is everything, and a stable childhood is a key foundation to adulthood. Henderson took a very vulnerable aspect of his life and shared it with us. You can’t help but root for his success after all the hurdles and pain he went through. Some people make the book out to be political but I don’t want to touch on that. 90% of his book is a memoir and while I disliked the last 10%, I’d admit that they were thought-provoking regarding social class and status – however, if you skip the last 10%, there’s no harm. 

“I’ve come to believe that upward social mobility shouldn’t be our priority as a society. Rather, upward mobility should be the side effect of far more important things: family, stability, and emotional security for children. Even if upward mobility were the primary goal, a safe and secure family would help achieve it more than anything else. Conventional badges of success do not repair the effects of a volatile upbringing.”

Rob Henderson, Troubled

Rating & Recommendation

I rate this book a 3 out of 5. It’s a solid read but not the biggest memoir of 2024, in my opinion. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a memoir and is looking for something to pass the time. 

Check out Troubled by Rob Henderson on Goodreads or Amazon Canada.

With love, Claire


  1. Great review, Claire! This sounds like a very interest memoir and I’m glad you were able to enjoy most of it. I’m interested to look into it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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