BAYA Book Review

What I Carry by Jennifer Longo

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Longo, Jennifer. What I Carry. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020. 336 p. ISBN: 9780553537727 $20.99. HS, OT *****

Purple tone flowers bursting out from the title text.
What I Carry, GoodReads.com

Released just before the COVID-19 pandemic in Jan. 2020, What I Carry was a largely overlooked book. It is a wonderful story of Muir, a young woman on the brink of aging out of the foster care system where she’s been all her life. She goes to live on a small island near Seattle with a longtime foster mother retiring from fostering, to what they both home is her last home. While Muir expected to plow through one more year, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t”, she didn’t expect to find a straight-shooting friend who gets it, a meaningful job, a love interest, and a feeling she’s scared to admit feels like home. Muir’s story drops some raw realities about foster care through the eyes of someone who’s lived through it. The story celebrates the healing power of nature and the love that can come from chosen family. What I Carry features some diverse characters and also touches on infrequently told history of internment camps in Washington State. It’s a great segway into learning more about natural history, John Muir, and foster care. You wouldn’t want to depart with the characters once you’ve reached the end. Hand it to high school students looking for realistic fiction, nature lovers, and anyone who has been touched by foster care. 

— Megan Keane, San Mateo County Libraries

Tags: Coming of age, Realistic, foster care

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