Foster by Claire Keegan Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge…

Foster by Claire Keegan; Grove Press, 2022. 92 pages; $20.00 (hardcover); reading level: adult/young adult.

Originally published in Great Britain in 2010 (with a shortened version appearing in The New Yorker that same year), both a movie (under the title The Quiet Girl) and the book Foster finally appeared in the U.S. in 2022. The book was worth the wait. An unnamed narrator, a young girl of perhaps 7 or 8, tells the story of a small bit of her life as she struggles to make sense of it. She’s somewhere in the middle of a large Irish farm family and, when school lets out for the summer, is singled out to move in with her pregnant mother’s sister and husband in another town. She has to read the adult conversations around her to figure out all the things she’s not told: how long she will be away, whether her aunt and uncle have to scramble as hard as her own family to get by. She is utterly unprepared for the warmth and care lavished on her by her hitherto unknown relatives. When she returns home at the end of summer to her alcoholic father and hardened, hopeless mother, she has grown in every way imaginable. The question left hovering in the reader’s mind, as she lands right back where she started, is whether her expanded awareness is, in the end, a good thing. The answer (as with so many other answers to questions posed in this short gem of a book) is left to the reader to tease out. It’s the hints and insights hidden between the lines of Keegan’s text that make this book so rich and so deserving of a second or third read.

Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge, Author

Connie Nordhielm WooldridgeBiography | View

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