Friday, July 27, 2018

Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter

Synopsis (via Goodreads): An achingly beautiful story in the vein of Rebecca Stead and R. J. Palacio about two foster children who want desperately to believe that they’ve found their forever home.

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 in forever. 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. 
"There are more letters and more words. They're building up inside me but they refuse to leave my body. They jam on top of each other like a million-car pileup on the freeway until my face is hot and my throat is sore and I know that when I finally do cry it won't be tears falling out of my eyes but letters."
When we went to the library our goal had been to find Artemis Fowl, but someone else had already checked it out. Lucky us! Forever, or a Long, Long Time was a really interesting story that explored the difficulties foster children face, and the lasting effects of being in the system.

Flora had trouble expressing her thoughts and feelings with words. She's capable of talking, but would sometimes float away from a conversation. I enjoyed reading about how she perceived herself, because she is incredibly smart. She would often mention "lung filters" and how her words would get stuck behind them, but occasionally would spill out if they weren't working. She was able to think so clearly, yet she struggled to communicate with everyone except Julian (who hides food in his closet because he's afraid he'll go hungry again).

It was heartbreaking when Flora misunderstood a situation and thought she was to blame. She was always worried that their new mom would stop loving them if she wasn't good enough. Flora and Julian were constantly waiting to be moved again, so there were a lot of ups and downs that went with that. Sometimes they threw tantrums and did awful things, and other times they were trying to be perfect so their new parents wouldn't send them away. I hated that they felt like they were to blame for their circumstances, and that they struggled to believe their mom when she promised them they would be with her forever.

It was even worse when the family started researching Flora and Julian's past. Their paperwork had been lost and never recovered, so their adoptive mother knew very little about their previous homes. They took a trip and tried to backtrack through all the places they'd lived, and some of the things they discovered were shocking and left me feeling angry and frustrated. They're children.

Forever, or a Long, Long Time was a wonderful story about learning to trust again and believing in a future where forever means something. I think the author did a great job of highlighting some of the issues foster children are facing today, and discussing some of the conditions they are forced to live in. These children have done nothing wrong and deserve to be loved and appreciated for who they are. It's sad how many of them end up somewhere worse than where they started. Flora and Julian were lucky, but a lot of children in foster care never find new families.

I loved the random theories throughout the book. Flora and Julian didn't believe that they had been born, so they made up different theories about where they came from. An example would be, "We come from the chaos, my brother and me. We were born out of the screams of other kids. We're made of their tears. We grew from their temper tantrums. We will never escape the chaos because it's what brought us to life in the first place."

I really did enjoy this one, and I like that the author told the story from Flora's perspective. It was unique and very eye-opening.

16 comments:

  1. This sounds like such a beautiful story! Glad you stumbled across it.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I thought it was a lovely story about forgiveness and understanding. These kids bounced from place to place and never knew what kind of home they would be in. Some adults were loving and cared for them, while others only did what was absolutely necessary and nothing more. Then there are the homes that have taken on too many children at once... it was awful. I think the author did a great job of showing some of the flaws in our foster care system, and how the lives of children can be affected many years later.

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  2. Aw, it sounds cute and heart-touching.

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    1. It was hard to read at times, but it was always hopeful. Flora and Julian have a forever home, which is more than a lot of foster kids can say. It's also uncommon for siblings to remain together, and I'm happy their mom chose to take them both. They have a unique relationship that only they understand, and it would have been cruel to separate them.

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  3. Sounds like a hard read. The foster system is so messed up. My husband endured it for a while as a kid and it just breaks my heart hearing stories.

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    1. I cannot even begin to imaging what it's like for children in foster care. There are people who foster kids for the money and take most of it for themselves, and then there are those that genuinely care. It's like a lottery for them, and most never win. It's not like it gets any easier once they turn 18. Without family and a support system, it's hard to get anywhere in life. The world makes it too fucking hard.

      I'm sorry to hear your husband experienced the foster care system firsthand. I wouldn't wish that on any child.

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  4. That sounds like a really good book.

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    1. It's definitely one I think people need to read! Foster care isn't something most people think about on a daily basis, but it's a really big problem that needs more attention.

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  5. "We come from the chaos, my brother and me. We were born out of the screams of other kids. We're made of their tears. We grew from their temper tantrums. We will never escape the chaos because it's what brought us to life in the first place."

    SO sad and beautiful

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    1. I agree. They had a lot of theories about where they came from... blood in a tube that spilled and took shape, the horizon, the bottom of the ocean, and others. They were all so unique and beautiful. I loved that they were so creative, but I was sad that they didn't believe they had a mother. They didn't think they'd been born like other babies, because they didn't have baby pictures. Also, if they had a mother... where was she? It broke my heart to hear them say those things.

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  6. This sounds so heartbreaking, but also like there is hope for the kids. A co-worker of mine works with foster kids, and it is just so difficult to hear about sometimes, the things these poor kids have to go through.

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    1. No child should have to feel unloved or unwanted. It's great that there is a system in place to help children who need it, but the system is broken. There seem to be more horror stories than happy ones. Children come out of those situations traumatized and wary of adults. They're too young to view the world so darkly and to fear never being loved.

      This story was heartbreaking, but I think it shed a light on some of the things that are wrong with the system.

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  7. This sounds like such a heartbreaking and touching read; I am glad that you stumbled across it!

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    1. Me too! I think the author includes a lot of really relevant information, but also tells a beautiful story. :)

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  8. This sounds like such an interesting and important book. Is it written for adult or younger readers?

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    1. I believe it was written for younger readers. I would definitely say it's MG, but you never know how publishers will categorize things. It was something I read aloud to my son, though some of the aspects were a little darker and I kept those to myself.

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