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Review: The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

Title: The Quiet You Carry
Author: Nikki Barthelmess
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 352
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (NV)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Victoria Parker knew her dad's behavior toward her was a little unusual, but she convinced herself everything was fine until she found herself locked out of the house at 3:00 a.m., surrounded by flashing police lights. Now, dumped into a crowded, chaotic foster home, Victoria has to tiptoe around her domineering foster mother, get through senior year at a new school, and somehow salvage her college dreams . . . all while keeping her past hidden. But some secrets won't stay buried especially when unwanted memories make Victoria freeze up at random moments and nightmares disrupt her sleep. Even worse, she can't stop worrying about her stepsister Sarah, left behind with her father. All she wants is to move forward, but how do you focus on the future when the past won't leave you alone?

Review: I will confess right up front how I got a copy of this book that won't be published until 2019. I was the yearbook advisor for 11 years at the high school where I worked and one of my students was Robby. Robby married Nikki. Nikki wrote this book. I was really excited when Nikki said I could read the book to review it, so here we are, and I feel lucky to have had access to this wonderful debut novel.

In order to truly understand this novel, I think it's important to know a bit about Nikki: she is a journalist published everywhere from lifestyle blogs to survivalist magazines. She entered foster care in Nevada at twelve, and spent the next six years living in six different towns. During this time, Nikki found solace in books, her journal, and the teachers who encouraged her as a writer. She graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno. In other words, she knows what she's writing about.

This story is heartbreaking for many reasons. For kids in foster care, for the emotions and stories they carry around with them in silence (hence the title), for the missed opportunities, and for the system that just can't keep up. Although there are many wonderful foster parents, some of whom I know well, there are also those who are horrible. And, perhaps equally awful, those that don't care. But half way through this novel, we learn more about Victoria's foster mother and things become clearer. Everyone has a story.

This book is well written, pulls you along from page one (I read it in one long sitting), and covers such important and emotional issues. I am excited for this author as she starts her writing career and can't wait to read what she publishes next.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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