Etched in Sand

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Regina Calcaterra’s memoir, Etched in Sand (HarperCollins, 2013) is an inspiring and triumphant coming-of-age story of tenacity and triumph.

Regina Calcaterra is a law partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP. Her painful early life, however, was quite different. Regina and her four siblings persevered an abusive and painful childhood only to find themselves faced with the challenges of the foster-care system and intermittent homelessness on Long Island. A gut wrenching and gripping story, Etched in Sand chronicles Regina’s rising above her past, while fighting to keep her brother and three sisters together through it all.

Beautifully written, with heartbreaking honesty, Etched in Sand is an unforgettable reminder that regardless of social status, one can rise above their past if they have the desire and the determination to succeed.


The middle of five children, Regina, and her siblings, Cherie, Camille, Norman and Rosie were born to the same mentally ill abusive and neglectful mother but all different fathers. Their mothers mental illness, and fathers abandonment, contributed to the families instability. They would constantly move quickly shifting from houses and apartments to trailers, homeless shelters, cars and the streets. Regardless of where they lived, the older siblings would work to make each place they lived a home for the younger siblings. Through Regina’s experiences Etched in Sand chronicles how the siblings lived on the fringe of society as they struggled to survive. All the while avoiding the authorities by keeping a pact that it was better to stay together on their own then be separated and placed in foster homes.

Through Etched in Sand Regina shares the scrappy survival instincts, mishaps, adventures and unbreakable bonds of a group of voiceless parentless siblings.

Regina’s book is meant to inspire children who are impoverished, abandoned and neglected and show them that they can pull themselves up if they believe in themselves- Roseann Magrane, William Paca Middle School Library Media Specialist


Etched in Sand takes the readers through Regina’s experiences in and out of foster care until she ages out at the age of twenty-one. It then moves through her adulthood while unfolding long held family secrets. Themes that are highlighted throughout include:

  • Optimism
  • Resilience
  • Perseverance
  • Self-Determination
  • Impact of kind acts on children in need
  • Vital role of the public library system, public education and the public university system on impoverished children
  • How educators can forever impact transient children
  • Helping those in need so they can one day give back
  • Role of goal setting
  • Determination to succeed regardless of social status
  • Child hunger, poverty, abuse & homelessness
  • Ability of children to cope
  • Sibling bonds
  • Forever parenting older foster children
  • Risk of homelessness for young adults aging out of foster care parentless
  • Foster care system generally
  • A child’s right to now their parentage
  • Breaking the cycle of abuse and homelessness
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