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Thursday, September 09, 2021

Novel Shows Beauty of Found Family in All Its Complicated Glory

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After suffering her own trauma, Dahlia Moscatelli has become a prisoner in her own home.  That doesn't mean she can't offer it as a refuge to others, though.  She and her husband, Louie, are already sheltering three long-term foster children.  When a social worker begs Dahlia to take in one more—a six-year-old who's been horribly abused and needs emergency placement—she hesitates.  Not only is Agnes Juniper a traumatized little girl with developmental delays, but she's also half Native American.  It's 1959 in small-town Massachusetts and the Moscatellis already have enough trouble with the neighbors over taking in so many kids.  When Dahlia meets Agnes, however, she caves.  The damaged youngster is in such obvious need that none of the Moscatellis can bear to turn her away.

It's clear from the get-go that Agnes' presence is about to change the lives of everyone in the Moscatelli household.  Over the next decade and a half, as they embrace the little girl and work together to love away her pain, the Moscatellis experience all the sorrows, challenges, and triumphs that define family life.  With one special girl at their center, all of them will find healing like they've never known before.

Describing All the Children Are Home by Patry Francis is difficult because the novel really doesn't have a plot.  The story meanders here and there as it details everything that happens when Agnes disrupts the Moscatellis' lives for the better.  Because the tale is so unfocused, it definitely sags in places.  Still, all in all, I found All the Children Are Home to be quite compelling.  The characters are sympathetic and likable, even if some of them (Dahlia and Louie in particular) are not exactly warm, fuzzy types.  Their story feels authentic.  It's sad, with a realistically untidy end, and yet, it's also a hopeful tale about the beauty of found family in all its complicated glory.  I liked the novel overall.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, disturbing subject matter, and depictions of illegal drug use (marijuana)

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of All the Children Are Home with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

4 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this one, mostly because of the kids in it. The premise reminds me a little of some of Torey Hayden's books because as a teacher, she worked with developmentally delayed and abused kids, only her books are nonfiction.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds like it could be a really intense story, but I like that it centers on how wonderful a found family can be.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds really good. The family across the street from us has two sons, one of whom started out as a foster child. They are hoping to take in a little girl at some point, and plan to adopt her if the situation details are right and she's eligible, etc. I want to read this one.

    ReplyDelete

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Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee

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My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows



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