Three foster siblings band together to help their newest brother.
Nevaeh (who’s black), Vic (who’s Salvadoran), and Mara (who’s Latinx) know the ropes of the foster-care system, and they’re in a pretty great situation with their current foster mom, Mrs. K. But their newest arrival, Quentin (who’s white), doesn’t know that, and with his Asperger’s, he finds the new family overwhelming. All he wants is to track down his mother, who is sick with cancer. Vic, who identifies as a kid secret agent, decides that the way to help Quentin is to take him on a quest to find his mom in the hospital (a few towns away), and he’s the person for the job. What he doesn’t count on is little Mara tagging along and Nevaeh taking it upon herself as the oldest to bring them all home. The narration alternates among three of the four kids (Mara, who speaks Spanish, never gets to tell her side of the story), each with a particular role in the family. The portrayals of Quentin’s Asperger’s and Vic’s ADHD are respectful, but the overall construction of the book is chaotic, with so many quick switches from character to character that readers may be left fatigued or confused. Although Quentin’s voice is distinct, Nevaeh’s and Vic’s are similar enough that readers have to pay particularly close attention.
Heartfelt but exhausting. (Fiction. 8-12)