Carter, Caela. Forever, or a Long, Long Time.
March 7th 2017 by HarperCollins
ARC from Young Adult Books Central
Flora and Julian have found a forever home after years in the foster care system, but neither is entirely sure that their mother will keep them forever. Flora refers to her as "Person" in her mind, and is worried about everything, to the extent where she often has trouble communicating. Julian hoards food in his room. Neither child believes that they were born like other children-- they believe that they never had a mother because they can't remember one and no one else has been able to tell them about her. After this belief causes problems at school, and they find out that their mother and father are going to have a baby, the family takes off to investigate the different foster homes where they lived and get answers to many questions. Their father has another daughter, Elena, who visits every other weekend, and this is sometimes a troublesome family dynamic, since Flora doesn't understand how hard Elena's parents' divorce was on her, and Elena doesn't understand how difficult and traumatic Flora's early life was.
There are a few books about children who are or have been in foster care-- Hunt's One for the Murphys, Davis' Peas and Carrots, Grime's Road to Paris, Castleman's Sarah Lost and Found, Dowell's Where I'd Like To Be, Booth's Kinda Like Brothers and Wolfson's What I Call Life for a beginning. I think it's good to have a variety of different books on this topic, since no two children will have the same experience in foster care, and readers who are in classes with children in the care system may be curious about what it would be like.
The disturbing part about this book is that Flora and Julian are clearly children who have fallen through the cracks. They spend more time in an emergency setting than they should have, they are not allowed to be adopted by two mothers, and their Lifebooks are lost after one of their placements wants to take Julian but not Flora. While their mother is depicted as caring and helpful, many of the people in their lives have not been.
This was a sad but intriguing read, and the sort of book that my seventh grade girls find appealing in February. Reading about people who have more problems than they do is a developmental stage, and both makes children feel better about their own lives and hopefully makes them more empathetic people as well.
Hand this to fans of Entrada Kelly's The Land of the Forgotten Girls or Vaught's Footer Davis is Probably Crazy.