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Reading Foster, A Personal Response

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Reading Claire Keegan’s Foster, A Personal Response 4

Reading Claire Keegan’s Foster, A Personal Response

‘I often have to write a story to make an image go away.’


Foster is set in County Wexford, rural Ireland in 1981, and told in the first person and through the eyes of a young girl who is taken to spend the summer with distant relatives, the Kinsellas whilst her mother gives birth to yet another baby. The story is immaculately measured and boundaried by the limitations of a child's understanding, whilst teeming with those observational skills with which children are frequently not credited but at which they excel. Moments of uneasiness or awkwardness are never missed, nor are the moments of unexpected care

'Her hands are like my mother's hands but there is something else in them too, something I have never felt before and have no name for. I feel at such a loss for words but this is a new place, and new words are needed.'

Slowly what has begun as a cautious and careful relationship between the girl and her carers becomes something much deeper as she settles into this loving and warm, yet inevitably temporary life. The bed-wetting is glossed over by her new 'mother' and it stops, but it is clear this is a home that has known abundant sadness; grief and loss are concealed here somewhere and little signals and hints creep into the narrative, much as they would trickle into a child's awareness.

As Claire Keegan goes on to say on the subject of having to writ...

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