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Review of Forever, or a Long, Long Time

carter_forever or a long long timeForever, or a Long, Long Time
by Caela Carter
Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    311 pp.
3/17    978-0-06-238568-0    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-06-238570-3    $9.99

Eleven-year-old (but still in the fourth grade) narrator Flora and her younger brother Julian had been in foster care for as long as they could remember. Now they’ve finally found a “forever” family in adoptive mother Emily; her new husband Jon; and Jon’s daughter Elena, a sixth-grader at Flora’s school. When Mom announces she’s having a baby, Flora and Julian worry about their role and security in the family. Because there are no baby pictures of them, the children think they were never born. Their “theories” of how they came to be are interspersed in the story: “We come from the horizon, my brother and me.” “We come from the television, my brother and me.” The siblings suffer the effects of trauma — Julian hoards food in his closet, afraid, from past experiences, that there won’t be enough to eat; Flora has difficulty expressing herself and sometimes stops speaking altogether. In her mind, she calls Emily “Person” rather than “Mom.” All of the members of this mixed-race family and the people around them are complex and well-rounded characters. No one is perfect, not even those who are kindest and most well meaning; for example, Emily makes a huge mistake by keeping secrets from the kids. When she agrees, reluctantly, to take Flora and Julian to visit their former foster homes, the children’s slowly recovered memories and their healing are authentic and cathartic.

From the March/April 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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