Friday, January 17, 2020

Review: What I Carry

What I Carry
Jennifer Longo
Expected publication date: January 21, 2020
For readers of Robin Benway's Far From the Tree, a powerful and heartwarming look at a teen girl about to age out of the foster care system.

Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she's learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light.
Carry only what fits in a suitcase.
Toothbrush? Yes.
Socks? Yes.
Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? Nope!
There's no room for any additional baggage.
Muir has just one year left before she ages out of the system. One year before she's free. One year to avoid anything--or anyone--that could get in her way.

Then she meets Francine. And Kira. And Sean.

And everything changes. - from Goodreads
I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways.

This book gave me mixed feelings - on one hand, there were aspects I really liked, but on the other, I had some issues with it.  Perhaps a pros and cons list will help better explain!

  • Muir has been in foster care her entire life and she's developed her own coping mechanisms, which for her include never staying too long in one placement.  I cannot even pretend to understand Muir's life, but to me it didn't make sense that she would choose to leave situations or homes that were decent places.  At various points throughout the book, she would describe to the reader some of the items in her suitcase and the stories behind them, so we got only glimpses of what her childhood was like.  By the time we meet her, at 17, she has almost completely closed herself off from any type of relationship, believing that there is no one she can rely on but herself.  It was kind of frustrating, and also heart-breaking.
  • The characters are a little too perfect.  It was almost too big of a coincidence that in her last placement before aging out, Muir lives with the perfect foster mom, meets the ideal boyfriend, and gains a best friend, all within days of moving in.  She never really had anyone before, besides her social worker, and suddenly she has all these people - in addition to also finding the perfect job at a wilderness camp.
  • There's not much drama.  In a book about a girl who is about to be thrown into the adult world all alone, there is surprisingly little conflict.  Muir's best friend, Kira, has some tough stuff in her background and is bullied at school, but "bad" things are solved so quickly it's almost like they didn't happen.
  • As much as I was frustrated by Muir at times, I also had to admire her.  She's so independent and down-to-earth; she gets good grades and is polite to pretty much everyone she meets.  I admired the decisions she made, even as a young child, to be a good person and not create unnecessary drama or conflict for herself, knowing how difficult her life already was.
  • Even though I mentioned above that it was a con that there wasn't much drama, this really was a feel-good book that had me rooting for Muir to accept the love and help that Francine, Sean, and Kira were trying to give her.
  • The author's adopted daughter was born into foster care and was in a few placements before coming to the author, so the story was written for her.  I feel like I learned a lot about the foster care system, and it was nice to see the "good" side of the system, since mainly you only hear about the horror stories.
3.5 stars


  1. Muir sounds like she has been through a lot. I'm happy that you were able to enjoy this one despite the few issues you had with it.

  2. Mixed feelings books are so hard to review for me but you did great with the pros and cons!

  3. That's a great point about the foster care system, you usually just hear hear bad things. I sometimes wonder- does nothing good happen?? So nice to see a balanced view. It does sound like her last placement things come together a little too easily. And the personal touch is nice. Glad this was a decent read even with the issues.

    1. Yes, although I had issues with it, there were definitely things to like.

  4. Hmmm. I was really looking forward to this book, but you have so many cons. I am scared.

    1. Honestly, I think you will like it more than I did. I find myself being really hard on books, especially YA, lately!

  5. Wow, that cover is gorgeous! I'm sorry the inside wasn't as amazing. It does sound like a book a lot of people would enjoy but I think I'd have issues with your cons list too.

    1. I totally agree about the cover! And yeah, I think was more of a "me" thing and many other people will love this one.

  6. That's so strange that there's so little drama. Like you, as soon as I read the synopsis, my immediate thought was that it was going to be filled with drama. I'm still tempted to read it though because of the Far from the Tree comparison. I did love that book.

  7. The thought of a child 'aging out' and having nowhere to go is pretty devastating. It's too bad things came together too flawlessly for the main character, but I'm glad she had some good experiences in the foster system.

    Great review.

    1. Thanks, Angie! I agree, it was kind of nice to see things work out.

  8. This does sound like a mixed bag, but a thought-provoking premise nonetheless. I'd be interested to see how the author handles such a sensitive experience.

  9. Lovely review, Angela! I've been really curious about that one, I think I might give it a try :)


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