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By J and M on 11-29-16
Thought Provoking and very real
Wow. This book wasn't as light and humorous like the rest. And, Frankly, hit close to home. I have some very close family members who were put in foster care after the death of a parent who was the bread winner, and then the grandparent who stepped in to help. In the midst of a huge extended family of aunts and uncles, no one stepped in. One of the oldest girls who was on her own eventually was able to get a couple of her younger siblings after a few years. But, the psychological damage of being ripped from family is so real. The stories of fear and helplessness they rarely ever speak of, about being safe in a large family one day and thrown into chaos while trying to deal with the sudden deaths of a parent and then a grandparent are heartbreaking. One simply stopped eating and talking, and had to be re-assigned to a home with at least one sibling. The bouncing around to different homes where they never knew what to expect. The walls that now never seem to be able to be breached even with their own children. They aren't always visible until something happens and they simply shut down emotionally. The more devastating the event, the less emotionally attached they become. And, the breaches in family that never quite close is all too familiar. Their clear disdain for their aunts and uncles, some of whom were actually nasty to them, blaming the children for causing the heart attack and illness of their parent and grandparent is evident. But, then their humanity also shows when being sought out as adults often for their help from these same family members in their older age when their own children failed to take care of them. And, the strength and resilience they had to make something from nothing. Most of them did quite well for themselves and ended up taking care of the very people who'd turned their backs on them with more care and grace than I think I could have. I grew up knowing all of these people and always wondered but never asked, how could you not do something when you had so much and they were losing everything? I have seen their own kids ask of these aunts and uncles ask, because their cousins were suddenly taken from them, but I've never heard an answer. In some instances they were going to school with their cousins, yet were on the outside of the family looking in. When I ask them, how they can be so gracious to people who didn't even bother to show you kindness or acknowledge you, they say it's the right thing to do. And, they all say, "We forgive, but we don't forget."
Anyway, this was definitely a romance, but for me, this story is largely about the mental anguish that kids go through when security and loved ones are ripped from them suddenly, and they have to somehow survive on the kindness of strangers. And, yet, it's so very well done. M.J. Fields doesn't make it so heavy and so difficult that it's hard to listen to or read. It wasn't too difficult and I actually couldn't put it down. I saw too many similarities. Different circumstances, but close enough. I'm not sure how it would effect someone who maybe isn't familiar with or know anyone in the system. I wasn't around then, so only hear stories of my family members. But, I have in-laws that take in foster kids and have spent decades making sure their birthdays were remembered, they received gifts on Christmas, they had photo albums full of pictures of themselves, or they got to do something as simple as seeing The Nutcracker. They go without so much that so many of us take for granted. Needless to say, I was very touched by this book and felt like M.J. Fields did and excellent job of portraying one girls story without it being over the top bad, but just the reality of what they go through no matter how good a foster family may be. And, especially at turning 18 and having to worry about not having a home or food, and having to try and figure out if they can even take care of themselves long enough to graduate from high school if their foster family won't support them now that the state has stopped paying for them. It is a very real thing these kids must face.
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