Review: Foster by Claire Keegan

My Interest

Thanks to Cathy at 746 Books for hosting Reading Ireland Month aka #begorrathon23 each year.

I listened to her previous book, Small Things Like These, which was also more of a short story than an actual novel. I’m not sure I like this idea of a sort of “micro” novel. Publishers pressure writers to stay under 300 pages now–will they make it under 200 soon?   


The Story

“She puts her arm around me. ‘You’re just too young to understand.’ As soon as she says this, I realise she is just like everyone else, and wish I was back at home so that all the things I do not understand could be the same as they always are.” 

“It’s a hard feeling but as we walk along I begin to settle and let the difference between my life at home and the one I have here be.”

A poor Irish family in the early 1970s sends an older child to stay with foster parents–hence the name, “Foster,” until the mother has given birth to the newest child. The overwhelmed mother and shiftless father do little more than house their children. While she has a few good memories, the girl knows she is just another mouth to feed and not only because her parents say so.

In her foster home she discovers what is to feel loved and valued. But when a gossiping neighbor goes too far, the truth about an “loose lips” and what damage they can do is revealed.

My Thoughts

The story showed both what foster care was meant to be–a temporary “home” in the real, loving sense of the word, and what no access to birth control does to poor families (it was still illegal in Ireland at the time). [The extreme right wing in the USA should take note of the fact that no birth control does not make poverty go away, nor does it stop children being born. Let’s recall Romania under Ceausescu please.] The girl’s feeling of “get it over with” on going home is so heart-breaking. The love and care she’s enjoyed is over and she must go back to a grim family on the edge. Heart-breakingly simple, this story shows loss both homes and most of all in the mind of one child. Fostering and adoption begin with loss. This child, though returned to her rightful home, lost even more.

My Verdict


Foster by Claire Keegan

I listened to the audio version.


7 thoughts on “Review: Foster by Claire Keegan

Add yours

  1. I loved both these books and so I signed up for a workshop with her in Ireland in September! As for length – they’re both technically novellas, I believe. I doubt publishers will want authors to write shorter books, though. The ~300 page mark seems to be what is being published most of the time. Unless the author is a big name, big income, famous person, and then they let them write huge doorstop sized books because they can’t find editors brave enough to cut them down!


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