By Casey Watson
294 pp. Harper Element. $14.99
Questions about why we read and why we write are at the forefront of this compelling tale of an eight-year-old child who enters foster care ostensibly of his own volition. Watson, a pseudonym, in a clear, lilting British vernacular, tells the story of Spencer, who comes to live with the author and her husband armed with notoriety, a thick file, and a past that belies his young age. He is angry; he is hurt–and he desperately needs love.
The memoir ebbs and flows, following the predictable patterns of a child in crisis: two steps forward and sometimes three back. The structure builds suspense–so much so that it is important to remind yourself as you read that this is a true story–as are all of Watson’s books. The names and identifying details have been altered sufficiently to guarantee the privacy of those involved; but at its core are the tragic trappings of the beleaguered foster care system–as strained in the United Kingdom as it is here at home.
As an adoptive parent and one-time foster care provider, I can attest to the pain, loss, and anguish that hovers around the young lives that come into care; and I tip my hat to those who can provide foster care for our world’s most vulnerable children. Spencer’s story is not unique but is nonetheless heartrending, and it is in very good hands with Casey Watson.