Muiriel was named after the hospital she was abandoned at. To be precise, the John Muir Medical Center in California. And since she was a girl, well, they tried to keep it close. And when her social worker, Joellen, gave her a book about her namesake for her 8th birthday, it, in many ways changed the direction of her life. If she had any say in it, that was. Because John Muir was a famous naturalist, who spent most of his life outdoors and trying to protect the wilderness we have today – places like Yosemite. Still, to a little kid of 8, probably not the best gift, or so she thought at the time.
Now Muir is about to embark on her last placement in foster care, because she is 17 and will be aged out of the system when she turns 18. And then she will truly be on her own. But her rules have been carefully in-place for herself for many years, and she believes she will survive this placement as well as she has the others. Don’t make any friends or connections, don’t cause trouble and always be ready to leave.
However, almost as soon as Muir sets foot on the only place Joellen can find to put her – a small island off the coast of Seattle, Muir begins to break her own steadfast rules. Her foster mother, Francine seems almost too good to be true, she makes a friend almost immediately and then she meets Sean at a dream job. What is happening to her well planned out life? Muir feels herself moving in a totally different direction and she’s not sure how to stop or if she even wants to.
What I Carry by Jennifer Longo is an amazingly good book about a subject that everyone should know about and most don’t even think about. What happens to all the children who never get adopted and “age out” of foster care? Where do they go, who can they depend on and what will their lives be like? Truly a wonderful book.
Recommended for grades 8 and up.