BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it.

Foster by Claire Keegan

This tiny novella of a young Irish girl’s magical summer is a heart-bruiser. The unnamed narrator is taken in by her aunt and uncle when her mother is at the end of one of her endless pregnancies, and as the only child in the household, she discovers a new and strong sense of self.

Her aunt Mary and uncle Dan Kinsella are the essence of kindness, especially in contrast to her own overwhelmed mother and her actively hostile, hard-drinking father. She comes to realize the tragedy that hangs over the Kinsella household, attends a home wake, is given a whole pound to spend on herself for the first time, and takes a memorable night walk by the ocean with Dan.

Small events, but the reader knows how large they will loom in the entirety of her life — but all summers must end. At 92 pages, the novella has won prestigious awards and great acclaim in Britain and Ireland.

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