They fuck you up, your mom and dad—and the foster-care bureaucracy and social workers, even the well-meaning ones, and numerous other institutional purveyors of official “compassion,” should you, like Crystal Taylor, have the misfortune of spending your entire childhood under their watchful eyes. In Life For Me Ain’t Been No Crystal Stair (the title cribbed from Langston Hughes, of course), writer Susan Sheehan tells the story of Crystal’s family, which somehow endured through three generations in foster care and other forms of state baby-sitting. Crystal’s mother was a homeless drug addict who had seven children she couldn’t care for; Crystal herself birthed her first child at age 14. Sheehan avoids portraying the family as victims of a nebulous “racism” or Big Government—or of each other. She reads at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919. (Bill Gifford)