Posts Tagged 'foster care'

The Losers Bracket by Chris Crutcher

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 250

Annie has a difficult family to say the least.  She was bounced in and out of foster care until she turned 8 and her mother got in yet another altercation and her foster family said they would take her back as long as they could make it permanent.  Her foster father in particular does not like Annie seeing her biological family because he thinks they are a bad influence.  So, Annie, a skilled basketball player, has learned that if her family happens to show up during her games there is not much anyone can do about it.  In tournaments she gets her team to lose the first game on purpose so that they can then work their way up through the losers bracket and have more games and chances for her family to come.  As time goes on, however, her family manages to find even more obstacles for her to deal with and she’s not sure how she can keep her foster family and biological family separate.  Is it unrealistic that she should be able to have both families in her life?

This story tackles the tough issue of foster care and the difficult positions that puts everyone in.  Annie’s family has some strong feelings about foster care, but Annie cannot deny it’s given her opportunities she would not have had otherwise.  That does not mean she wants to turn her back on her family completely, however, so it becomes very complicated.  Throughout there is a lot of sports action too, for readers who like to read about sports.  The issue of foster care is not treated as an easy fix and all sides are presented to show how complicated this can be.  There is always hope, though, for helping kids who are in terrible situations.

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

lying game

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  307

RAC:  Yes

Emma is a foster child who was abandoned by her mother at a young age.  Sutton is Emma’s long lost twin sister she didn’t know she had until Sutton had already mysteriously vanished.  Emma is lured to Sutton’s town thinking she is going to meet Sutton and instead she is threatened and told if she doesn’t pretend to be Sutton she will die.  As Sutton begins to learn more about the kind of person Sutton is she wonders if this is some kind of elaborate prank or if something terrible really has happened to her twin.  Whom can she trust among Sutton’s friends and family?  Would one of them hurt her and threaten her twin into taking her place?

Fans of Sara Shepard will enjoy this title as much as her others.  The story is intriguing, there are many characters who have reason to hate Sutton, and the plot constantly twists and turns.  The only thing readers might not like it waiting for the next one in the series!  Recommended for high school girls.

Variant by Robison E. Wells

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

# of Pages:  376

RAC Book:  Yes

Benson is a foster kid who has been passed from one home to another for years.  He finds information about a boarding school online and applies for a scholarship.  He hopes to find a home for the rest of his high school life so that he does not have to face being the new kid anymore.  When he arrives at his new school, Benson is not as excited as he thought he would be.  The entire school is covered in electrified barbed wire and security cameras.  There are no actual adults in the school and all the kids are responsible for doing everything, such as teach and cook meals.  The kids have broken into three gangs to try and survive, but Benson is not willing to accept that there is no way out, despite the insistence that anyone who tries to escape never returns.  Can Benson find a way out?  Can he handle the answers he finds along the way about the truth behind the school?

Variant is engaging from the second Benson arrives at the school.  There are so many factors involved in the make up of the school that it becomes almost impossible to ascertain why these students are being held captive there.  The author adds an interesting twist about halfway through the book that makes it even harder to determine what the purpose of the school is.  There are many characters, but they are described in a way that makes it easy to understand why they are responding to life in the school this way.  Fans of the Maze Runner series will love this storyline.

The Fallen: Volume 1 by Thomas Sniegoski

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages: 517

RAC Book:  Yes

Aaron Corbet has been in the foster care system since his mother died in childbirth.  He has no idea who his father is, but has over the years managed to find a great foster family.  When he turns eighteen he begins to hear strange voices and has terrible nightmares.  One particularly heinous day he has terrible migraines, but when they pass he can suddenly understand and speak any language.  This includes animal languages, which he learns once he finds he can now understand his dog.  Aaron decides to go to his psychiatrist and he agrees to run some tests, but before that can happen Aaron is approached by a strange man who tells him he is the son of a fallen angel and a human woman.  If that isn’t crazy enough, he goes on to say that there was a prophecy in which he was foreseen as reuniting the fallen angels with heaven.  Does Aaron have the strength to complete such a big task?

This book is fast paced and exciting, but does not shy away from violence and loss.  Aaron often feels timid about his power and his mission, but it’s easy to see that he is in fact the one described in the prophecy.  While it’s understandable that he should have doubts about himself and the situation, hopefully he will begin to find some confidence in future volumes.  The story is complex and will continue to unfold, but fantasy readers will not be disappointed in this exciting tale.

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen



Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  281

RAC Book:  Yes

2010 Iowa Teen Award

Holly writes her story in a diary style format as she escapes from an abusive foster home and goes on the run.  She describes how she travels, finds food, and avoids capture from police.  The life of a runaway is more difficult than many teens probably realize because many shelters will not help you unless you are accompanied by an adult.  As Holly weighs her possible choices, her main focus is always on survival from starvation, bullies, and even the haunting memories of her drug addicted mother who left her in this position.

Life on the street is much harsher than most teens realize and this book accurately describes what it would be like to have to fend for yourself at the age of 12.  The reasons for why Holly chooses to live on the street instead of a foster home are made clear as well as her fears of asking anyone for help.  The details begin to feel a little long at times as the reader waits for things to change for Holly.  The ending is satisfying, albeit a bit too easy after such a difficult journey.  Readers who like journal style entries like in Go Ask Alice will find this interesting.  Also, fans of A Child Called It will enjoy this quick read about a similar topic.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  13 and up

# of Pages:  339 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Award Winner:  Iowa Teen Award 2009-2010

Alfred Kropp is a big, awkward kid whose father ran off when he was little and his mom recently died of Cancer.  He is living with his Uncle Farrell, who works as a night security guard for a big business.  Uncle Farrell is always trying to encourage Alfred to try new things and push himself harder so that Alfred can be more successful than he is when he grows up.   When his uncle  asks Alfred to help him with an opportunity that has come his way Alfred hesitates.  He feels there is something shady about the person offering his uncle so much money just to steal a sword that the man claims was stolen from him first.  His uncle threatens him with foster care, so he agrees to go along for the theft.  Things do not go as planned, however, and Alfred feels he is responsible for allowing a dangerous weapon get into the wrong hands.  As he begins his adventure to retrieve the item before it can destroy the world, he wonders if it is an accident that he became involved in the first place or if he is somehow connected to that magical sword.

This adventure story is full of mystery, suspense, and action.  Kropp’s discovery of his true identity and his involvement in a plot to take over the world is interesting and exciting.  The characters Kropp meets along the way are colorful and it is difficult to tell at times who is good and who is out to get him.  His personality fits that of an awkward teen who has become involved in an unexpected adventure.  Fans of the Percy Jackson series will be fans of this one as well, although there are fewer mythology references.

Fabulous Terrible: The Adventures of You by Sophie Talbot

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 231 p.

RAC Book: Yes

This story is told in the second person point of view, which means that the reader is the main character. You have been a foster child for many years and despite finding a great family you thought you would stay with forever, problems began to arise when you began having your visions again. As a child you had had visions or shimmers in which you could see glimpses into the future. Since it seemed to upset people whenever you told anyone, you stopped discussing your visions at a young age. Unfortunately, when the shimmers begin up again it distresses your new family and so you begin looking for boarding schools to attend. You find one called Trumbull Woodhouse, which is a very exclusive all girls school. Once you arrive, you begin noticing that your shimmers are coming faster now and at the same time someone begins to sabotage your every move. Who would want you to get kicked out? Is there any way to stop this person before it’s too late?

The format of this book is very unusual, but makes for a fun story. As the story goes on and very personal attacks are made against the main character, who is “you” in this story, the reader begins to feel as if it is her getting attacked.  The more that is revealed about this school the more intriguing it gets.  There are similarities to this series and the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray, but at this time the level of fantasy is very low.  The ending seemed a bit fast, but immediately flows into the next one in the series.  This series will always keep girls wanting more.  Recommended.

Alfred Kropp the Seal of Solomon by Rick Yancey

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  327

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel, Alfred Kropp is kidnapped out of his foster home when his help is needed to retrieve the Seal of Solomon.  The Seal of Solomon is the vessel that holds the fallen angels from heaven and the ring that can release them.  These were taken from the secret organization Alfred came to know in the first book when a rogue agent decided to release them into the world. 

As Alfred tries to help protect the world from millions of demons he seems to only make things worse.  This adventure story will keep readers interested all the way until the end.  There is a super hero feeling to Kropp, but at the same time he is a regular teenager who thinks and acts like a regular teenager.  The humor, suspense, fantastical elements, and adventure will be a hit with teens.