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Book Review :: Foster by Claire Keegan

Foster by Claire Keegan book cover image

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

Like Keegan’s earlier book, Small Things Like These, Foster is slight in size, but not in emotional heft. This novella tells the story of a nameless girl in the Irish countryside whose parents must send her to stay with neighbors for a summer while her mother is pregnant. The main financial problem seems to be her father who loses cows in card games and has a liquid supper on a regular basis, while her mother has too many children to pay attention to all of them. The Kinsellas, who take the girl for the summer, don’t care much for her father, Dan, and it’s clear he thinks similarly of them. The situation is one of convenience more than care. Or so it seems. The Kinsellas love the girl in a way that neither of her parents do, a care they show in small ways that seem obvious: her new clothes and a bit of spending money for ice cream; a lack of shame when she wets the bed; lessons on how to read and cook. By the end of the novella, the Kinsellas have fostered the girl not only by keeping her for a few months, but by encouraging her, nourishing her, promoting her development, and, most importantly, cherishing her.

Foster by Claire Keegan. Grove Atlantic, November 2022.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.

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