Everything We Keep
Agatha has bounced from home to home, never really settling in. That’s until Katherine gives Agatha stability – and a way to get back if she needs to leave her parents again. What follows is the tug between being at home with your parents, or being at home with an adult who can treat her as the child she is.
Initially we don’t know what the circumstances are around the deterioration of Agatha’s home life. We know that something major must have gone wrong, but it’s unclear. Slowly and powerfully it is revealed, as is the level of stress and anxiety in Agatha’s life. I worried for Agatha’s future, even as I was sure her present would turn out ok.
Some of the dialogue is quite stilted in this, and I’m thinking that since it is an ARC it will be fixed in the final proof. If I wanted a comparison of this author’s style, I would guess I can read Unpacking Harper Holt. I’m not sure I’m going to, because there are plenty of other good middle grade reads already demanding my time.
If only this was the lived experience for more children in the foster care system. The ending is near perfect, and sadly, unlikely to occur for many children. What Agatha experiences before meeting Katherine is so typical it hurts. Surely there is a better way? I once again conclude that trying to place children back with their biological parents at all costs is absurd. At the same time, I can’t (yet can) believe that foster parents just hand the child on when they get to be too troublesome.
What I would have liked to see a little more of was a resolution at the end. What are the next steps? How can Agatha really move forward? Is there any hope for her parents? How will the dynamic actually change when Lawson joins the family? Can Agatha keep up going to school? What about her burgeoning OCD?
3 stars from me. It’s not quite as moving a story as Fighting Words, but a little more straight-forward than Watch Over Me. It’s a worthy addition to foster care literature, and it’s certainly perfect for the middle grade audience in a way that these other two novels are for older audiences.
Scholastic | 1st April 2021 | AU$18.99 | paperback