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Joel C. Riley, Marine Combat Veteran, Published a Memoir With His Foster Mother Holly O’Connor

The book follows Joel’s arduous adjustment while transferring to various foster families.


My personal business was not something I wanted the therapists or caseworkers to put into their files or become a case study for discussion with other people, like I am crazy.

Joel Riley recounted his arresting story in “The Cards I Was Dealt the Hand that I Played,” a memoir written by him and his foster mother Holly O’Connor. His story comprised of myriad adoption from different families and individuals when he was very young and his memories living with them – both the pleasant and the not so pleasant.
Joel had a very tough childhood. He never felt what love is, especially from a mother and from a family. He never knew how to assimilate because each stay with the foster lasted only briefly. He learned to become street smart instead of being book smart. He experienced a complicated learning because he was hyperactive. Although he was a clown of the class, he easily got angry. He recalled stabbing his first-grade classmate on her face with a pencil, because he was so furious that his classmate stabbed him on his head first, so he retaliated.
Joel also learned to play “mind games” with therapists. He would build a “wall” so that no one can take a glimpse of his personal life. He would rather shut anyone out, refused to trust others and closed his mind that his life would be rectified. Later on, Joel joined the Marines and fought in Iraq.
Yet one of the most impactful factors in Joel’s life was moving in at Holly O’Connor’s home. Joel was thirteen years old by then and he was the toughest member in Holly’s family. He may be tough but Holly’s husband Joel’s foster father, Paul O’Connor has even tougher faith and family values. But even with such strong and admirable beliefs, are they enough to heal Joel’s heart and open up to them? Will Joel get the chance to forgive his biological mother?
Find out more of Joel’s story as Holly O’Connor and he will join other authors during the Miami Book Fair International. This gracious affair is slated on November 22-24, 2019 at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. Don’t miss it!
“The Cards I Was Dealt the Hand That I Played: The Life of JC Riley” is now available on Amazon.
The Cards I Was Dealt the Hand That I Played: The Life of JC Riley
Authors | Holly O’Connor and Joel C. Riley
Publisher | Self-Published
Published Date | June 2, 2018
Genre | Biography & Autobiography
ISBN-10 | 1980899436
ISBN-13 | 978-1980899433
Paperback Price | $14.99
Kindle Edition | $9.99
About the Authors
Joel Christopher Riley was one of seven children who was taken away from his mother as a child and lived in five foster homes. He endured abuse and neglect, became a father, joined the Marines, fought in Iraq, and was other than honorably discharged and suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He came to live with the O’Connors when he was thirteen, after he had been in four different foster homes. Joel and his foster mother, Holly O’Connor, co-authored the book “The Cards I Was Dealt the Hand That I Played: The Life of JC Riley.”

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 Joel C. Riley
 Holly O’connor

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