Jewel is shuttled from one foster home to another. But Jewel wasn't always a State Kid. Her mother Angela's constant search for happiness through a steady stream of unsavory boyfriends leads to the state's intervention in Jewel's life. Listening to her new foster mother's list of nosno drugs, no lying, no stealing, no skipping school, no boys in or out of the house, no being late--Jewel realizes that her mother said yes a lot. Probably too much. She remembers saving Angela's life when one of many boyfriends beat her, trying to hide another boyfriend's attempts to rape her when she was fourteen, and being sent to a foster home to please the latest boyfriend. But still, Jewel worries about her mother and knows that she will once again pick up the pieces when the latest jerk leaves. Bit by bit Jewel's life begins to change for the better after her latest move to a new foster home and school. Although most people can't see past her tough State Kid faade--spray-painted hair, heavy make-up, ripped clothing and unlaced shoes--her English teacher realizes there's more to Jewel than meets the eye. He convinces her to tutor a fellow student who needs help with math, and gradually she learns how to make friends. In the process, she touches the lives of many people around her, including her social worker, teachers who believe in her, her new-found, tentative friends, and even their parents. But when she's forced to choose between her life-long job--taking care of her mother--and doing save her mom. But will she be able to save herself? The Throw-Away Piece is the winner of the Unviersity of California Irvine's Chicano / Latino Literary Prize.