Fostergirls

Liane Shaw. Second Story (Orca, dist.), $11.95 trade paper (266p) ISBN 978-1-897187-90-6
Shaw (thinandbeautiful.com) doesn't have trouble creating obstacles for her main character, 15-year-old "fostergirl" Sadie. A string of unsuccessful foster placements has landed her in a group home with five other girls ("Messed-up babes from all over the place"); an overeager guidance counselor at her new school has diagnosed her with a learning disability; and Rhiannon, a chronically chipper student determined to befriend Sadie, won't shut up. In fact, Shaw's biggest challenge is making caustic, self-deprecating, and distrustful Sadie likable. Fortunately, she succeeds. Sadie, though tough as nails, narrates her story with an amusing edginess that works. Shaw keeps things PG-rated (with little swearing, minimal drinking, and practically no drugs or sex) while highlighting the reality of life as a foster child. An accident late in the book adds an unnecessarily melodramatic note and the book's ending is abrupt—a quarrel with Rhiannon is hastily resolved, and readers are left with the impression that Sadie's circumstances are improving, though far from perfect. But for readers seeking an honest account of how a girl without parents survives, this story delivers. Ages 13–19. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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