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Author: Longo, Jennifer
Publisher: Random House
Year Published: 2020
ISBN: 9780553537710
Grades: Grades 7-12, Parent Resource

What I Carry

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Foster and adoptive parent Jennifer Longo, inspired by her adopted daughter, has written a hopeful story about the foster care system. She paints a realistic picture of growing up in foster care and how broken that system can be, as seen through the eyes of Muir, a lifelong participant. Muir has learned to pack light and carry only what fits in one suitcase after her twenty placements, with no room for additional baggage like emotional attachments to friends, foster families , or a boyfriend. With one year left before she ages out of the system, everything changes when she is placed on an island in Puget Sound with a kind and caring housemother named Francine and her lovable dog, when she is befriended by an artistic Japanese American girl named Kira, and when she grows attached to Sean, a budding naturalist, while working at her dream job in a nature sanctuary. The author gives us glimpses into Muir’s past, presented in short but powerful memories and anecdotes about small items she has taken from each of the foster homes, illustrating her history and character, translating into the woman she is becoming. Included are quotes and snippets about the life of famous naturalist John Muir, as well as a list of further readings about the foster care system. Young adult and adult readers will appreciate this thoughtful look into the experience of foster care in a story of healing, hope and learning to trust even while standing up for yourself and taking a chance to ‘unpack.’

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