Forever, or a Long, Long Time
Forever, or a Long, Long Time

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Annotation: Having lived in so many foster homes that they are unable to trust the family that has finally adopted them, siblings Flora and Julian are helped by their new mother on a journey to resolve their past so that they can build a future.
Catalog Number: #151162
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 309 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-238568-2 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99742-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-238568-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99742-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016949993
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Foster kids Flora, eleven (but in fourth grade), and younger brother Julian have finally found a "forever" family in adoptive mother Emily, her husband Jon, and Jon's sixth-grade daughter Elena. When Mom announces she's having a baby, Flora and Julian worry about their security in the family. The members of this multiracial family and the people around them are all complex and well-rounded characters.
Publishers Weekly
This nuanced novel highlights the struggle to trust an adoptive family after a traumatic history in foster care. Even as 11-year-old narrator Flora and her younger brother settle into a comfortable life with adoptive parents, they think of themselves as the -Onlys-: -Julian and me, the only steady things in the constantly shifting universe.- Both siblings are dealing with the aftereffects of trauma, with Julian hoarding food and Flora struggling to pass fourth grade. The relationship between Flora and her -Person- (how she thinks of her adoptive mother) is especially compelling, and Carter (My Life with the Liars) believably illustrates that although the term -Person- sounds detached, it actually denotes a special status among Flora-s many foster mothers. Flora-s theories about her true origins, which appear between chapters, poignantly underscore her difficulty wrangling with a fractured history (-We came from the chaos, my brother and me. We were born out of the screams of other kids-). Carter-s layered narrative-which also touches on divorce, stepfamilies, and welcoming a new baby-doesn-t shy from pain as it testifies to resilience and the expansive power of love. Ages 8-12. Agent: Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Mar.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 5&11;7&12; Eleven-year-old Flora and her younger brother, Julian, have lived in so many foster homes that they have no memories of growing up and no history. They believe not only that they were never babies but also that they were never even born. This startling notion hooks readers from the first chapter: What happened to the siblings before they were adopted by Emily (whom Flora refers to as "Person")? Carter ( My Life with the Liars ) delicately draws readers into the lives of a group of people overcoming obstacles as they learn how to become a family. Through Flora's skittish, yearning voice, Carter explains the siblings' reluctance to accept that they have found their forever home: "We can't help preparing for the fall." The family's fragile progress is tested when Emily and her husband reveal they're having a baby and Flora fights with Elena, teen daughter of Emily's husband. To help Flora and Julian embrace their future, Emily takes them on a journey into the past, visiting their former foster homes and caregivers. During the trip, Carter truly shows her skill, observing simple moments of the tenuous yet growing bond between mother and children while painting an unflinching portrait of the tragic shortcomings of the foster care system. Strong secondary characters flesh out the narrative, but the novel's heart belongs to the relationship among Emily, Flora, and Julian as they learn how to trust and to meet one another's needs. VERDICT Addressing contemporary family issues and a child's timeless desire for self-knowledge, this title is a first purchase for middle grade collections.&12; Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Flora and Julian are a team. They have to be: after moving from foster home to foster home, the only permanence is in each other. Both brown-skinned and with textured hair, the children were born, seemingly out of thin air, and left to imagine why they were never given a family. Now living with their new mom and dad, Flora struggles to accept that forever can happen to them. When Julian sneaks food or Flora forgets her words, she wonders if they will be sent to another home. Struggling to pass fourth grade and accepting changes in her family, Flora must learn to believe in forever and herself. Carter's sophomore novel gently weaves the heartache and confusion of abandonment with the struggle for love and acceptance. Flora gently narrates, sifting through the blank spaces in her memories as readers stumble upon her discoveries. Flora's observations about her family add dimension to each character and reveal her own layered persona. Carter folds in casual, profound musings that only children can produce, establishing Flora's bittersweet sincerity and quest for answers. The book highlights the cracks in the foster-care system without dictating a solution. Instead it focuses on the complex effects of an unstable environment on young children. Poetic and meditative, this emotionally enthralling novel undresses assumptions with purpose and hope. (Fiction 8-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* After a long, troubling string of foster homes, 11-year-old Flora and her brother, Julian, were finally adopted two years ago. They're starting to feel comfortable with their mom, Emily, but now she's pregnant. The announcement raises distressing questions about "real" family and belonging, particularly because Flora and Julian know nothing about their biological parents, except that they were probably darker than Emily, who's white, but lighter than Emily's husband, who's black. In Flora's moving first-person narrative, the contrast between her poetic, perceptive inner monologue and the words she struggles to say out loud reveals the complicated process of sifting feelings of trust from a childhood full of abandonment, insecurity, and fear. When Emily takes Flora and Julian on a trip to visit the places they lived before she adopted them, they develop a stronger sense of identity and begin to feel moored to their past. Carter fleshes out Flora and Julian's story with dynamic side characters, particularly the adults, who, for all their patient understanding, still realistically make mistakes. Though some of the siblings' homes were awful, the loving ones demonstrate that, regardless of what a family looks like d there's not a single "traditional" family to be found here ve can make all the difference. This stunning portrayal of the circuitous path of trauma and healing teems with compassion, empathy, and the triumph of resilience.
Word Count: 69,877
Reading Level: 3.7
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.7 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 188191 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.3 / points:15.0 / quiz:Q70633
Lexile: 570L

3 starred reviews • A Kirkus Best Book of 2017 • A New York Public Library Top Ten Books for Kids pick • An ALA Notable Book • 2018 NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor Book

From rising star Caela Carter, author of My Life with the Liars, comes a captivating and heartfelt story about siblings who learn that love can never be divided, only multiplied.

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 that they’ve found their forever home.

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.

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me, Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird, and Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish

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