I have read a lot of books about foster care. A lot of books. As a foster and adoptive mother, I am always on the lookout for a book that expresses the harsh realities of the foster care system in a manner that is both truthful and age-appropriate for young readers. Because of my specific requirements that I look for in books that address the foster care world, it is very rare where that I find such books about foster care that I feel really expresses the realities of this system and the innocence of the children that it often traps.
Caela Carter’s novel, Forever or a Long, Long Time is an exception. A tragically, but beautifully written exception. To anyone interested in getting a glimpse of the realities of foster care, this book is a must read in my book!
At the beginning of the novel, Forever or a Long, Long Time, you meet a sibling group consisting of an eleven-year-old sister, Flora, and younger brother, Julian. These two are each other’s family. They are it. Together they have seen it all, experienced it all, and survived it all. Throughout their childhood, they have been moved from home-to-home and new-mother-to-new-mother. Now, the two of them must start again, this time with their “forever” adoptive parents.
After years and years of abuse, neglect, and moving, Flora and Julian struggle with the idea of “forever.” Even though their foster parents do everything they can to reassure these siblings that forever is real with them, Flora and Julian question the truth beyond that word and the meaning beyond what exactly is a family.
Flora and Julian’s struggle to adjust to their new family becomes even more complicated with their foster mother announces that she is going to be having a new baby. Like all child, Flora and Julian struggle with the idea that their foster mom will surely love this new baby more than them.
In an effort to bring their family together, the foster mom decides to take Flora and Julian on a trip to visit their past foster families and foster homes. In a trip that is surely going to change their lives and understanding of the words “forever” and “family,” Flora and Julian just might finally find out how long forever really is.