WHAT I CARRY by Jennifer Longo
Kirkus Star

WHAT I CARRY

Age Range: 14 - 18
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KIRKUS REVIEW

At 17, Muiriel needs to make it through one more placement, then she will age out of foster care and into state-sanctioned self-sufficiency.

Muir is white, woke, and keenly aware that her experience of not knowing any family from birth isn’t representative of most foster kids. She meticulously follows the wisdom of her hero and namesake, John Muir, and keeps her baggage light. However, it quickly becomes apparent that her new temporary home will challenge her resolute independence. The island forest beckons to her. Francine, her latest foster mother, is insightful and socially aware. Kira, a heavily tattooed artist, is brimming with best friend potential. And then there’s Sean, the beautiful boy who understands that the world can be terrible and wonderful at the same time. As these people show up for Muir, the survival strategy she clings to—don’t get attached—diminishes in validity. This is terrifying; Muir has only ever learned to depend on herself. The trauma she contends with is not perpetrated by a villain; it is the slow boil of a childhood in which inconsistency has been the only constant. The power of relationship—both those experienced and those denied—is expertly explored throughout this novel with nuance and humanity. The central characters are immensely likable, creating a compelling read sure to leave an imprint. Most main characters are white; Kira is Japanese American.

An exceptional addition to the coming-of-age canon. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-553-53771-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2019