Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t believe they were born. They’ve lived in so many foster homes, they can’t remember where they came from. And even now that they’ve been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe in forever. So along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past—for only then can they really begin to build their future.
Flora and Julian are siblings who’ve been in foster care for as long they both can remember. Now they’ve been adopted by Emily, who Flora refers to as [her] “Person” in her head. Emily’s new husband who has a daughter, Elena, from a previous marriage also adopts Flora and Julian. However, both kids carry obvious trauma from years of bouncing between different parents. They’re convinced that they weren’t born, and have different theories as to how they came to be. Flora struggles with verbalizing emotions, becoming non-verbal in periods of stress while Julian hoards food in his wardrobe, because of an ingrained fear of hunger.
When their foster parents discover they’re having a new baby, they’re worried about breaking the news to Flora and Julian. As expected, the kids do not take the news well. To help them understand where they’ve come from and bring healing so the family can move forward, Emily embarks on a trip with the kids through all their past foster homes.
This story is so beautifully written. The prose is lusher than many adult novels I’ve read. Author Caela Carter paints a picture of the foster care system so unflinching that this book is difficult to read at multiple points. Yet, that is what makes the story hard to put down. The bond between Julian and Flora, their bond with Emily, and her relentless love in their behalf are the hopeful parts of this novel. The portrayal of the difficulties faced by blended families, especially in unique situations as this, is also spot on.
Because this book is well written, I have to warn that it will break your heart. It made me anxious for these kids so many times and I could feel the helplessness that some people might feel when trying to help anyone with PTSD. I also really liked the realistic, unpredictable ending and the sense that the story continues. This book, like A Kind of Paradise and Up for Air, I would recommend for an upper middle-grade audience and up.
Forever, or a Long, Long Time is a powerful middle-grade novel which highlights the impact of childhood trauma and the failures of the foster care system. More than that, it speaks to the quiet strength of unfailing love shown by some foster parents, caring teachers, and adoptive parents. I would strongly recommend Forever, Or a Long, Long Time for adults (and kids) interested in adoption, gorgeous prose, and the psychological impact of childhood trauma.I would strongly recommend Forever, Or a Long, Long Time for adults (and kids) interested in adoption, gorgeous prose, and the psychological impact of childhood trauma. Click To Tweet
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- Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
- Up for Air by Laurie Morrison
- Emily Out of Focus by Miriam Spitzer Franklin
Have you read this book or anything by Caela Carter? What did you think? What are your favorite adoption-related books? I shared a few of my favorites here. I’d love to know!