Foster by Claire Keegan

In “Foster,”Claire Keegan explores family and grief through the half aware eyes of a young girl.  The narrator, I’m not sure if we ever learn her name,  must live with her aunt and uncle for an unspecified amount of time.  The arrangement is precipitated by her mother’s latest pregnancy.  Right away the dynamic of her home life is made clear; they are a large, impoverished family.  Her father trends towards caricature due to problems drinking, gambling, and lying.  
The narrator is caught in the tension between her parents and and extended family, as hard feelings have developed toward her father.  As the narrator begins to become comfortable in her new surroundings, she learns that the childless aunt and uncle used to have a son, but that he died as a boy.  The death of their son adds to the tension, because they seem to be deserving people, a couple whose love overflows, and who would be excellent parents.  They are juxtaposed to the narrator’s parents who are drawn in an unsympathetic light.

“Foster” does not do anything spectacular.  It’s a solid story, but predictable.  Circumstance changes, and eventually it’s time for the narrator to return home.  That’s obvious from the title.  Will she gladly go back to her cramped house and over burdened parents, or will she wish to stay with the couple that treated her with respect?  Can you hear the foot steps as she chases towards that dream?

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