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Written by Brenda Kearns

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This novella explores the drawbacks of the foster care system and the emotions of children who are its victims. The author has had first hand experience with the system and presents her story from the point of view of fourteen year old Allie. She and her younger twin siblings, Luke and Madeleine have been ripped away from their mother many times. This time they find themselves on a farm.

Allie is determined to get them back to their urban home. She uses her experience to try to manipulate the system and the social worker. When she finds herself in the care of Jo-Jo and a few other foster children, Allie is flummoxed. While she is determined to get back home as fast as she can, this family’s approach of both tough love and common sense has her baffled. It seems that Allie’s mother is determined to sabotage her efforts because every time she has a chance to show herself a good mother, she proves just the opposite. Finally the day arrives when they have an unsupervised overnight visit with their mother; the children find themselves in trouble again. How will Allie decide to handle it this time?

This book is both an examination of foster care and a coming of age story. Kearns knows how to develop her characters and pull the heart strings of her readers. At the same time, the touches of humor like Allie falling into cow dung and getting kicked when pretending to understand how to milk a cow take the edge off an otherwise too serious topic. I recommend the book for children ages ten and up. They will find many topics with which to identify as well as being given an opportunity to explore aspects of serious family issues.

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