I was going to write that I couldn't be more conflicted about this book, but then I realized that I only had one positive thing to say about it.
Negative #1: The writing. It should be obvious within a few pages that this is a poet writing a novel. The problem with a poet writing a novel is that these are two different art forms. I think it's likely extremely difficult to move from one art form to the other, and this book is evidence of that. The flowery descriptive language is beautiful in and of itself, and it does match the story as it evolves but...
Negative #2: ...the plot is ridiculous. Not the foster homes part; I am certain that is as awful in real life as it is here. But when your protagonist, at barely 14 years of age, becomes, without a word of warning, a sultry, confident seductress, all believability in the character flew out the window. Plus there's the dog attack scene. And the whore next door. I mean, really.
Positive #Only: However, her mother is gorgeously drawn. You admire her and hate her and wonder at her sanity and all these conflicting feelings can only come as written from a daughter's perspective. If you read interviews with Janet Fitch, she makes it obvious that this is the only thing she did not make up in this novel. No wonder it rings with truth.