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What I Carry

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For readers of Robin Benway's Far From the Tree, a powerful and heartwarming look at a teen girl about to age out of the foster care system. Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she's learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light. Carry only what fits in a suitcase. Toothbrush? Yes. Socks? Yes. Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? For readers of Robin Benway's Far From the Tree, a powerful and heartwarming look at a teen girl about to age out of the foster care system. Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she's learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light. Carry only what fits in a suitcase. Toothbrush? Yes. Socks? Yes. Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? Nope! There's no room for any additional baggage. Muir has just one year left before she ages out of the system. One year before she's free. One year to avoid anything--or anyone--that could get in her way. Then she meets Francine. And Kira. And Sean. And everything changes.


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For readers of Robin Benway's Far From the Tree, a powerful and heartwarming look at a teen girl about to age out of the foster care system. Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she's learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light. Carry only what fits in a suitcase. Toothbrush? Yes. Socks? Yes. Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? For readers of Robin Benway's Far From the Tree, a powerful and heartwarming look at a teen girl about to age out of the foster care system. Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she's learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light. Carry only what fits in a suitcase. Toothbrush? Yes. Socks? Yes. Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? Nope! There's no room for any additional baggage. Muir has just one year left before she ages out of the system. One year before she's free. One year to avoid anything--or anyone--that could get in her way. Then she meets Francine. And Kira. And Sean. And everything changes.

30 review for What I Carry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    4.5 stars - a beautiful story of nature. A story of friendship and finding it where you least expect it. Foster care is a subject that isnt talked about enough in juvenile fiction. And I love the characters in What I Carry. 4.5 stars - a beautiful story of nature. A story of friendship and finding it where you least expect it. Foster care is a subject that isn’t talked about enough in juvenile fiction. And I love the characters in What I Carry.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    This was a very interesting book about a girl who has been in foster care her entire life. Abandoned at birth at the John Muir Hospital, she has to struggle her whole life to fit in and to be accepted. Muiriel, known as Muir, goes to her last foster home since she is almost 18 and at that point she will age out of the program. Her last home is on an island and she makes friends, gets a job, has a pet, and has a very loving foster mother.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Fischer

    I had the chance to hear Jennifer Longo speak at an NCIBA luncheon. Her presentation was funny, poignant and sincere. I picked up an ARC of her novel afterward... and was immediately hooked by the utterly unique voice and story. In What I Carry, Jennifer Longo writes.... Exactly the right thing. Every single time. This story about Muir, abandoned at birth, named by the nurses in the NICU, and her journey through the foster system and towards the chance to unpack, find love and home, is moving I had the chance to hear Jennifer Longo speak at an NCIBA luncheon. Her presentation was funny, poignant and sincere. I picked up an ARC of her novel afterward... and was immediately hooked by the utterly unique voice and story. In What I Carry, Jennifer Longo writes.... Exactly the right thing. Every single time. This story about Muir, abandoned at birth, named by the nurses in the NICU, and her journey through the foster system and towards the chance to unpack, find love and home, is moving without being over-the-top, brave, honest, and filled with three-dimensional characters and gorgeous prose. I hope tons of readers take the opportunity to fall in love with this novel.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Book

    I do not usually cry when I read books. I get misty...occasionally...but crying? Not so much. So it's saying a whole hell of a lot that when I finished this book I was sobbing. I love Muiriel. Love Francine. Love Sean and Kira and Terry Johnson. And the writing is the kind that makes you want to be a better writer. Hands down the best book I've read in 2019.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Willson

    this book is honestly really beautiful. it's toast, friendships, brokenness, healing, nature, forests, strength, rawness, bats, and it's really... a journey? the characters were deep and interesting and compelling and i am Living for Muir and Kira's friendship and Francine is such a queen <3. also can we talk about Terry Johnson? because <333 it's aesthetic is on point, stories set on islands? yes please it's really powerful, shining lights in areas that don't get explored that often in this book is honestly really beautiful. it's toast, friendships, brokenness, healing, nature, forests, strength, rawness, bats, and it's really... a journey? the characters were deep and interesting and compelling and i am Living for Muir and Kira's friendship and Francine is such a queen <3. also can we talk about Terry Johnson? because <333 it's aesthetic is on point, stories set on islands? yes please it's really powerful, shining lights in areas that don't get explored that often in fiction in a raw and honest way. my only complaints can all be boiled down to "i get maybe this is realistic, but was it necessary ?" in regards to content mainly (more swearing/romance than i generally like in books?) on a scale of one to ten tho, this book is toast, which is a high compliment, because i love toast

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Loved it! It had the potential to be unrealistic because finding a safe place to live just a year before aging out of the foster care system seems difficult but it was beautifully written and drew you in. One of the better YA books I've read so far in 2020.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    This is the story of Muiriel, a girl born into foster care and determined to be as well-behaved as possible in order to not get adopted. It took until near the end of the book when it was actually explained for me to understand why Muir didn't want anybody to adopt her. It was frustrating to listen to all these people saying "we love you" to her and having her refuse to believe them. I've never been in her situation, so maybe I would feel the same if I had been. The characters are introduced my This is the story of Muiriel, a girl born into foster care and determined to be as well-behaved as possible in order to not get adopted. It took until near the end of the book when it was actually explained for me to understand why Muir didn't want anybody to adopt her. It was frustrating to listen to all these people saying "we love you" to her and having her refuse to believe them. I've never been in her situation, so maybe I would feel the same if I had been. The characters are introduced my saying things like 'a white woman,' which would be fine if 99% of the characters weren't white. The only POCs are Kira (Japanese), Zola (black), and maybe Elliot (who is described as white-ish). So few non-white characters made it painfully obvious how incredibly white everybody else was. Muir was named after and became obsessed with John Muir. She really just seemed as pretentious and kind of holier-than-thou because she is so into preservation, not conservation. Thankfully, all talk about that died off in the second half of the book. Francine, Kira, and Sean were all amazing friends to Muir and their support was great to read about. Something happened with Katiana in December. The book spans another six months, and they are never mentioned again. I really wanted to love this, but overall it was just fine for me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lindsi (Do You Dog-ear?)

    I received an ARC as a gift. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. What I Carry was a brilliant, fantastic read! I am so happy and thankful my #otspsecretsister gifted it to me! Before receiving it in one of my boxes, I wasn't aware this book even existed, which is a tragedy, since it was absolutely perfect for me. I'm a fan of John Muir and his accomplishments, so all the snippets and quotes from his life and I received an ARC as a gift. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product. What I Carry was a brilliant, fantastic read! I am so happy and thankful my #otspsecretsister gifted it to me! Before receiving it in one of my boxes, I wasn't aware this book even existed, which is a tragedy, since it was absolutely perfect for me. I'm a fan of John Muir and his accomplishments, so all the snippets and quotes from his life and his works were an added bonus. They were gems that weren't hidden, but there for the entire world to find and enjoy. Muir and Muiriel made this story what it is, and the belief that you should do what you can to help those who can't help themselves. In Muir's case, trees (and nature in general) are defenseless and should be preserved. Muiriel was preparing herself to age out of the system, so she tried not to get attached to other people or places. She stopped caring about being adopted, but she still looked after the other foster kids that she shared homes with. Muiriel didn't keep in touch afterwards (with the exception of Zola), but she did what she could while she was there. Adults have the power to really screw with a child's perception of the world and themselves, and some automatically assume foster kids are "trouble" or that they did something to get placed in foster care. A child does nothing to end up in foster care. The fact that they're there is partly due to a flawed system, and the blame should be solely placed on the adults in their lives. Adults have failed them in one way or another (either by family members and/or the government), and they shouldn't be blamed for being upset about it their circumstances. They have every right to feel angry, hurt, and betrayed.There's nothing wrong with them, they just don't have a cookie cutter family. Jennifer Longo said she wrote this book because her daughter asked her to. Her daughter said she wanted a story that was realistic based on her experiences, and that not everyone was molested or abused in foster care. Sometimes, it just sucks. I think the author's personal experiences mixed with her daughter's really made this book something uniquely original. Muiriel's story will be something others can relate to, while also being informational for those with no experience with the subject matter. I really loved the secondary characters! Francine, Joellen, Kira, Zola, Sean - - it was an amazing group of people that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about. The author manages to squeeze in other important topics throughout the book, and I never felt like she was beating me over the head with the information. Everything flowed from one thing to the next, and I took my time getting to the end. There's a subtle romance in the book between Sean and Muiriel, but the book focuses on Muiriel and how her experiences in foster care have shaped who she is today. She doesn't want to let herself love or care too deeply, because she's afraid of what that would mean for her future. The plan has always been to get out and make it on her own. Somehow. However, she can't keep herself from caring about the new people in her life that seem to need her just as much as she needs them. Natan was despicable. Tiana and Katrina were incredibly frustrating. Racist white people and just dumb adults in general made me want to throw things - - but this was all intentional. The author paints a realistic picture of what it's like growing up in foster care, and how broken the system can be. There are good people, like Joellen and Francine, that do what they can to make it better, but there are so many kids... it's impossible to make sure they all end up in a nice home with nice people. When I finally caught on to why the book was titled the way it was, it added an entirely new layer to my experience with this story. It was well-written, exceptionally realistic, and beautifully rendered. I could honestly go on and on about how much I loved this book and its characters, and I could probably keep typing about how well the author addressed certain issues, but I'll leave it at this: What I Carry was an amazing, thought-provoking read that I plan on reading again and again. There's something for everyone! Great characters, friendships, a subtle romance with a genuinely good guy, awesome parents and adults, and people fighting for what they believe in. You have characters overcoming obstacles and learning about themselves, school bullies and judgmental educators. It was practically perfect in every way. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Bloglovin' | Amazon | Pinterest

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kaila

    "No kid is in foster care because of something they did. That's not how it works. And adults are solely responsible for the sorry state foster care is in. Until everyone understands and admits this, nothing will ever change." The stigma of being a kid in foster care. Misconceptions that adoption, that having adults who genuinely care for you, is a "privilege" instead of an entitlement for children. Unjust criminalization of children in foster care. Inherent racism and small-minded people. This "No kid is in foster care because of something they did. That's not how it works. And adults are solely responsible for the sorry state foster care is in. Until everyone understands and admits this, nothing will ever change." The stigma of being a kid in foster care. Misconceptions that adoption, that having adults who genuinely care for you, is a "privilege" instead of an entitlement for children. Unjust criminalization of children in foster care. Inherent racism and small-minded people. This book covers it all, and despite the happy ending, my heart breaks even further for the children still enduring foster care after reading this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Minter

    This one started out pretty strong but the more I read, the more I found that I didn't like. I was really intrigued by the character's perspective as a child in the foster system who is about to age out. Her unique point of view seemed promising and I was ready to learn about her experience. First, Natan's character felt more like a caricature. He was ridiculous and not even remotely realistic. It would have been different if he was there for comedic purposes but that was not the case. Then came This one started out pretty strong but the more I read, the more I found that I didn't like. I was really intrigued by the character's perspective as a child in the foster system who is about to age out. Her unique point of view seemed promising and I was ready to learn about her experience. First, Natan's character felt more like a caricature. He was ridiculous and not even remotely realistic. It would have been different if he was there for comedic purposes but that was not the case. Then came all of the political opinions of the author, not so subtly incorporated into the teen character's thoughts and dialogue. It may have worked if it had felt more genuine but it often felt preachy and opportunistic. I didn't expect to come across phrases like "Classic White Person Line" (yes, capitalized) or that a lady is being "peak white" at someone's expense. If the story calls for pointing out bias and/or racism, that is one thing, but when it feels like characters were created solely to play out certain stereotypes, it comes across as transparent and lazy. Give the characters some kind of dimension, not just one note idiots who are there to say stupid things. My last, and biggest issue, is a personal one. If the author is an atheist, fine, but don't inject your own bias and unintelligent commentary about Jesus. To say a song is about Jesus and "his insatiable need for gifts" is not just offensive, it is a gross mischaracterization.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. This book gave me mixed feelings - on one hand, there were aspects I really liked, but on the other, I had some issues with it. Perhaps a pros and cons list will help better explain! Cons - Muir has been in foster care her entire life and she's developed her own coping mechanisms, which for her include never staying too long in one placement. I cannot even pretend to understand Muir's life, but to me it didn't make sense that she would choose I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. This book gave me mixed feelings - on one hand, there were aspects I really liked, but on the other, I had some issues with it. Perhaps a pros and cons list will help better explain! Cons - Muir has been in foster care her entire life and she's developed her own coping mechanisms, which for her include never staying too long in one placement. I cannot even pretend to understand Muir's life, but to me it didn't make sense that she would choose to leave situations or homes that were decent places. At various points throughout the book, she would describe to the reader some of the items in her suitcase and the stories behind them, so we got only glimpses of what her childhood was like. By the time we meet her, at 17, she has almost completely closed herself off from any type of relationship, believing that there is no one she can rely on but herself. It was kind of frustrating, and also heart-breaking. - The characters are a little too perfect. It was almost too big of a coincidence that in her last placement before aging out, Muir lives with the perfect foster mom, meets the ideal boyfriend, and gains a best friend, all within days of moving in. She never really had anyone before, besides her social worker, and suddenly she has all these people - in addition to also finding the perfect job at a wilderness camp. - There's not much drama. In a book about a girl who is about to be thrown into the adult world all alone, there is surprisingly little conflict. Muir's best friend, Kira, has some tough stuff in her background and is bullied at school, but "bad" things are solved so quickly it's almost like they didn't happen. Pros - As much as I was frustrated by Muir at times, I also had to admire her. She's so independent and down-to-earth; she gets good grades and is polite to pretty much everyone she meets. I admired the decisions she made, even as a young child, to be a good person and not create unnecessary drama or conflict for herself, knowing how difficult her life already was. - Even though I mentioned above that it was a con that there wasn't much drama, this really was a feel-good book that had me rooting for Muir to accept the love and help that Francine, Sean, and Kira were trying to give her. - The author's adopted daughter was born into foster care and was in a few placements before coming to the author, so the story was written for her. I feel like I learned a lot about the foster care system, and it was nice to see the "good" side of the system, since mainly you only hear about the horror stories. 3.5 stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    Definitely another great and important book that I think everyone should read! Foster care is a tough situation many people don't really want to talk about or deal with, because of all the horrible things that are known to occur then. But the one thing that always seems to get lost in the media biz and portrayal: it is absolutely NOT the children's fault. Nothing they did put them into foster care; that's on the parents and the adults of the world. This book really puts into light just what it Definitely another great and important book that I think everyone should read! Foster care is a tough situation many people don't really want to talk about or deal with, because of all the horrible things that are known to occur then. But the one thing that always seems to get lost in the media biz and portrayal: it is absolutely NOT the children's fault. Nothing they did put them into foster care; that's on the parents and the adults of the world. This book really puts into light just what it means to have to grow up in foster care, and how the world likes to unfairly judge foster kids. It's about how the language we use when talking about foster kids and adoption is problematic, because it depicts underlying assumptions that all foster kids are, or will inevitably, turn "bad" or that it's "their fault" they're in the situation with absurd claims of it coming from their genetics. It's not okay to criminalize foster kids, because, in the end, it's the foster system that has the heaviest hand in turning them out that way. The book itself follows Muir, a girl who has been in foster care since birth and is a year away from turning 18 and thus "aging out" of the system. She's had a perfect record: good grades, no behaviour problems, always on time and helpful around her foster parents' homes. But every time she gets too comfortable in a foster house, every time she starts finding that she enjoys it there, she leaves of her own choice. That's because to Muir, good things are fleeting, and nothing ever really lasts. So she's made a rule to have no attachments, so that it hurts less. Until she moves into her last foster home with the foster mom, Francine, and Muir meets Kira and Sean. Keep in mind that this is a work of fiction, and that it in no way deceits every foster kid's experience. But overall, it was a really good story, filled with a lot of moments that really give you an inside look at how broken the world is if they're treating kids badly because of things out of their control.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A foster kid takes a walk in the woods and never comes back.✨ ✨ But seriously, this one is important. After a life spent in foster care, 17-year-old Muir(iel) is on the cusp of aging out and setting out on her own. Her social worker drops her off at her 20th placementthats right two-zeroand the people she meets turn her whole world upside down. 🌎 Im going to be honest. Its a bit heavy-handed at times. 🖐 Most conflicts are resolved within the span of a chapter. The connections between John Muir and A foster kid takes a walk in the woods and never comes back.✨ ✨ But seriously, this one is important. After a life spent in foster care, 17-year-old Muir(iel) is on the cusp of aging out and setting out on her own. Her social worker drops her off at her 20th placement—that’s right two-zero—and the people she meets turn her whole world upside down. 🌎 I’m going to be honest. It’s a bit heavy-handed at times. 🖐 Most conflicts are resolved within the span of a chapter. The connections between John Muir and our Muir’s penchant for the outdoors feel a little forced. 🌳 The cast of characters inhabiting the small island town and Muir’s life are almost too perfect: an artsy best friend whose tough love is never too tough, a boyfriend who woos her by quoting 19th century naturalists, and a foster parent who miraculously manages to always say the right thing at the right time. 💯 But I’ll be darned if I didn’t root for this improbable crew. And I’ll be darned if I didn’t bawl my way through the final 50 pages. 😭 Though over half a million kids spend time in foster care each year, it’s so rarely addressed in contemporary ya/ juvenile lit. This take is thoughtful—it actively dispels adoption-is-the-cure-all myths—but nonetheless hopeful. It’s the happy-ever-after all kids in care deserve. 💕 Pick this one up if you’re in need of a feel good or are a big Robin Benway fan.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donny J.

    This is going to be a little heavy . . . I FUCKING love this book. My brother, no longer alive, was a foster. He was my best friend to begin with, and in the end, he became so much more and I will never forget him as a friend, but more so as my brother. This book is so beautifully written and layered with such depth; I often found myself bewildered at the reality in front of me, on these pages. I saw pieces of my brother within Muir and everything she battled with in the story. From the I love This is going to be a little heavy . . . I FUCKING love this book. My brother, no longer alive, was a foster. He was my best friend to begin with, and in the end, he became so much more and I will never forget him as a friend, but more so as my brother. This book is so beautifully written and layered with such depth; I often found myself bewildered at the reality in front of me, on these pages. I saw pieces of my brother within Muir and everything she battled with in the story. From the I love you's she couldn't grasp right away to the beauty of truly finding her forever family, start to finish, this book held me like a warm blanket. Adoption and fostering need to be present more within literature, especially fiction. Please take time out of your day to read this. (my only gripe was the actual written usage of AF, but otherwise I love this.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    What I Carry was a book I went to not knowing the synopsis at all. I had my mom pick a random book of mine to have me read and I'm so happy she chose this one. Jennifer's writing was beautiful and captivating and I finished this book over the course of a day. It's a story about foster care and a girl names Muir who is so close to turning 18 which would make her a free adult and all she is thinking about is her future when she lends in her last house with a woman who plans to stop fostering after What I Carry was a book I went to not knowing the synopsis at all. I had my mom pick a random book of mine to have me read and I'm so happy she chose this one. Jennifer's writing was beautiful and captivating and I finished this book over the course of a day. It's a story about foster care and a girl names Muir who is so close to turning 18 which would make her a free adult and all she is thinking about is her future when she lends in her last house with a woman who plans to stop fostering after Muir times out. Well, this story is truly about friendship and love and the magic there is to finding people who love and care about you and you just can't help but love and care back. I thought each character was written with so much care and love and I'd read this again down the line in a heartbeat.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    I loved Jennifer Longo's other two books (Six Feet Over It is my favorite but they're both great), so I had a little bit of anticipation mixed with worry that I might not like What I Carry as much. But I shouldn't have been worried, because it's really sweet and poignant and moving and beautiful. I felt this world so tangibly, from the forest to the ocean shore to the many many bedrooms Muir has lived in. I have no experience with foster care, but this book really portrays it well - as far as I I loved Jennifer Longo's other two books (Six Feet Over It is my favorite but they're both great), so I had a little bit of anticipation mixed with worry that I might not like What I Carry as much. But I shouldn't have been worried, because it's really sweet and poignant and moving and beautiful. I felt this world so tangibly, from the forest to the ocean shore to the many many bedrooms Muir has lived in. I have no experience with foster care, but this book really portrays it well - as far as I can tell, being an outsider to that system. I do know what it's like to feel like there are no trusted adults around you, and how the stress constant uncertainty can lead to deep emotional issues. I loved Muir (even if sometimes I was a little bored of all the John Muir stuff) and I think anyone who reads it will love her too.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer S

    Muiriel is in her senior year of high school, at which point she will age out of the foster care system, having been in multitudes of foster homes since her birth. She is fiercely independent, refusing to allow herself to get close to anyone because everything in her life is so temporary - plus she needs to be self-sufficient when the system spits her out at age 18. Then she is placed in her final foster home, a small island community outside of Seattle, where she encounters everything she has Muiriel is in her senior year of high school, at which point she will age out of the foster care system, having been in multitudes of foster homes since her birth. She is fiercely independent, refusing to allow herself to get close to anyone because everything in her life is so temporary - plus she needs to be self-sufficient when the system spits her out at age 18. Then she is placed in her final foster home, a small island community outside of Seattle, where she encounters everything she has always wanted and been afraid to find. Beautifully written YA story about the power of relationships to touch one's heart. 4.5 stars, rounded up.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kiki Z

    Technically very good and with strong emotional impact, but the author keeps hidden the real reason Muir doesn't want anyone to adopt her until the last quarter, and frankly that was a bad idea. At times, her refusal to plant roots was extremely frustrating and ruined some of the emotional impact, and having this information would have been better. Usually this matters mostly in thrillers, but the longer the author keeps something from the audience, the bigger it needs to be, and this didn't Technically very good and with strong emotional impact, but the author keeps hidden the real reason Muir doesn't want anyone to adopt her until the last quarter, and frankly that was a bad idea. At times, her refusal to plant roots was extremely frustrating and ruined some of the emotional impact, and having this information would have been better. Usually this matters mostly in thrillers, but the longer the author keeps something from the audience, the bigger it needs to be, and this didn't feel very big. In fact, it felt very guessable. I was already thinking something along those lines. I guess I just felt it was fairly underwhelming when all is said and done.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bree Janelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I originally picked this book up because it gave me The Fosters vibes. But this book is nothing like that. It is so tame it ranges on being boring. There is not enough conflict in the story in my opinion. And a lot of the time I was confused on how quickly a conversation topic changed. And sometimes even what they were saying was confusing because I didnt have extensive knowledge for the guy they were talking about. The romance was so-so. I think the best part was the conflict with the mean I originally picked this book up because it gave me The Fosters vibes. But this book is nothing like that. It is so tame it ranges on being boring. There is not enough conflict in the story in my opinion. And a lot of the time I was confused on how quickly a conversation topic changed. And sometimes even what they were saying was confusing because I didn’t have extensive knowledge for the guy they were talking about. The romance was so-so. I think the best part was the conflict with the mean girls versus the best friend. The best friend had a better arc than the MC. Overall, I liked this book but I would never reread it. And I don’t know if I’d recommend it to anyone. It was just blah. Good but not memorable.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    This was eye opening book for me. Muir, a 17 year old girl in foster care, is almost out of the system. She has tried everything possible to "NOT" fall in love with the families she has been with along the way. However, things become more difficult as she meets Francine, and all the others that she really starts to fall in love with as she is in her last phase. This really helped me understand a little more what kids go through, the things they carry with them, and just how feelings and emotions This was eye opening book for me. Muir, a 17 year old girl in foster care, is almost out of the system. She has tried everything possible to "NOT" fall in love with the families she has been with along the way. However, things become more difficult as she meets Francine, and all the others that she really starts to fall in love with as she is in her last phase. This really helped me understand a little more what kids go through, the things they carry with them, and just how feelings and emotions can really train our brain into thinking certain ways permanently! I would highly recommend this one for everyone to take a look at:)!

  21. 5 out of 5

    ash ronnel

    ASDFGHJKL I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!! it was a big bundle of Feelings™, PowerfulRelationships™, and! Character!Growth!™ which i absolutely adored. pls just do me a favor and read it. {review to come when i can stop flailing about this perfect read} ASDFGHJKL I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!! it was a big bundle of Feelings™️, PowerfulRelationships™️, and! Character!Growth!™️ which i absolutely adored. pls just do me a favor and read it. 🥺 {review to come when i can stop flailing about this perfect read}

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Cresse

    The YA world needs this story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hanna

    I really enjoyed this book! It was smart, funny and quite frankly beautiful. All of the characters and their journeys transfixed me from the first to last page. Longo shines a light on the dreams and loves of kids in the foster care system. It was hope-filled and opened my heart and mind. I recommend this book to anyone who likes YA realistic fiction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katelynn

    I don't know how to express how well done and important this book is for foster kids/ foster families, teens and their parents, budding nature enthusiasts, educators, American citizens, and on and on and on...except to say that it is. It emphatically covers topics, systems, and prejudices that are so often misrepresented or ignored in fiction--but not in a violent or abrasive way. The language is poetry and the moments well-paced; the love is acute, but deep and movingly developed; the setting I don't know how to express how well done and important this book is for foster kids/ foster families, teens and their parents, budding nature enthusiasts, educators, American citizens, and on and on and on...except to say that it is. It emphatically covers topics, systems, and prejudices that are so often misrepresented or ignored in fiction--but not in a violent or abrasive way. The language is poetry and the moments well-paced; the love is acute, but deep and movingly developed; the setting is magnetic and written with the ever-so-rare acknowledgement of its actual history. I have massive respect for the people that shared their stories with Longo, and for Longo for putting it all together in such a relatable and hard hitting package. Granted, these opinions are coming from my personal experiences with family members involved in various areas of the foster system. That being said, I urge you to read this book, recommend it, and let these voices be heard.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Jennifer Longo has such a gift for immersive settings that breathe life into her books. UP TO THIS POINTE was one of my favorite reads of 2018, and I was so excited to snag an arc of her newest novel, WHAT I CARRY, at the PNBA bookseller convention last fall! I picked the book up shortly after its release last month, and found myself immediately drawn in to Muir's story and the rich setting and cast that surround her. I especially loved all of the John Muir quotes and references, which made for Jennifer Longo has such a gift for immersive settings that breathe life into her books. UP TO THIS POINTE was one of my favorite reads of 2018, and I was so excited to snag an arc of her newest novel, WHAT I CARRY, at the PNBA bookseller convention last fall! I picked the book up shortly after its release last month, and found myself immediately drawn in to Muir's story and the rich setting and cast that surround her. I especially loved all of the John Muir quotes and references, which made for a really unique and lovely YA read! WHAT I CARRY deals with some truly heavy topics, from foster care to memories of Japanese American internment, but it does so in a gently powerful way that uplifts but never overwhelms. Perfect for fans of Emery Lord.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Siena

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is so good- I especially liked it when Muir thinks that Kira will be mad at her because she's in foster care and didn't tell her. She is afraid of Kira's reaction and is afraid that she won't want to be friends anymore. She thinks this because of all the things she's experienced and of how people react when they find out she's in foster care. But instead Kira is happy about it because she says they are kinda like cousins now since her aunt is Muir's foster parent. I disliked it when I This book is so good- I especially liked it when Muir thinks that Kira will be mad at her because she's in foster care and didn't tell her. She is afraid of Kira's reaction and is afraid that she won't want to be friends anymore. She thinks this because of all the things she's experienced and of how people react when they find out she's in foster care. But instead Kira is happy about it because she says they are kinda like cousins now since her aunt is Muir's foster parent. I disliked it when I found out Kira used to smoke because it made me loose trust in her. But that last scene that I just described made me start to trust her more to be Muir's friend. I chose this book because I like books that are teen realistic fiction. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes realistic fiction too.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I got this for free from a goodreads giveaway. I was excited to read this book and it did take me a lot longer to finish it then I thought. I felt the book started off strong, but the main theme was Muir resisting a family, friends, etc because she was aging out of foster care. I know being adopted isn't a magic cure all but once she had people she liked and who respected her why couldn't she see that maybe staying in one place more than a few months wouldn't have been a terrible idea? While this I got this for free from a goodreads giveaway. I was excited to read this book and it did take me a lot longer to finish it then I thought. I felt the book started off strong, but the main theme was Muir resisting a family, friends, etc because she was aging out of foster care. I know being adopted isn't a magic cure all but once she had people she liked and who respected her why couldn't she see that maybe staying in one place more than a few months wouldn't have been a terrible idea? While this book had a strong start, the book as a whole was meh.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    If you had told me, when I was about 30 pages into this book, that I was going to end up only giving it 2 stars, I probably wouldnt have believed you. It started strong, got a little meh toward the middle, and then got so tangled up in its own woke-ness at the end, that I was physically rolling my eyes. Also, with the exception of the main character, everyone was either perfect and amazing, or completely, one-dimensionally terrible. The terrible ones were almost caricatures. And the good If you had told me, when I was about 30 pages into this book, that I was going to end up only giving it 2 stars, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It started strong, got a little meh toward the middle, and then got so tangled up in its own woke-ness at the end, that I was physically rolling my eyes. Also, with the exception of the main character, everyone was either perfect and amazing, or completely, one-dimensionally terrible. The terrible ones were almost caricatures. And the good characters could literally do no wrong. C’mon, give them a LITTLE nuance.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liralen

    Three and a half stars. I was so eager to read this, because I loved Longo's first two books, but this...felt a bit more generic? Which is odd, because the emphasis on Muir isn't generic, and the entire point of the book is to provide the type of story about foster care that isn't often told. I think I just ended up wishing for more development for some of the other story lines: stuff happens (bullying, a creepy coworker, etc.), but it feels more secondary than I'd like. (Or afterthoughty? Three and a half stars. I was so eager to read this, because I loved Longo's first two books, but this...felt a bit more generic? Which is odd, because the emphasis on Muir isn't generic, and the entire point of the book is to provide the type of story about foster care that isn't often told. I think I just ended up wishing for more development for some of the other story lines: stuff happens (bullying, a creepy coworker, etc.), but it feels more secondary than I'd like. (Or afterthoughty? Because those are in fact intentionally secondary storylines...) Very cool to learn a bit more about John Muir, though—I didn't know that there was more to the 'mountains are calling' quote.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marija

    I really, truly, fell in love with this book. I'm still thinking about it a week later, which for me, is the mark of a great book. I'm not sure if simple is the word I'd use to describe it, because it's not about a simple subject. Muir is a 17 year old girl who's been waiting to age out of foster care from far too young an age. She hasn't just built up walls, she's practically made a fortress around herself. That's not to say Muir is an unemotional robot of a protagonist, she reflects on her I really, truly, fell in love with this book. I'm still thinking about it a week later, which for me, is the mark of a great book. I'm not sure if simple is the word I'd use to describe it, because it's not about a simple subject. Muir is a 17 year old girl who's been waiting to age out of foster care from far too young an age. She hasn't just built up walls, she's practically made a fortress around herself. That's not to say Muir is an unemotional robot of a protagonist, she reflects on her feelings, overthinks most of the time (#relatable), and has a streak of sharp wit that genuinely had me laughing throughout the book. She acknowledges her own privilege, and nothing felt like souped-up cancel culture or twitter-style wokeness, as it were, but rather it was that most of the characters had an innate and quite organic sense of justice that was really refreshing to read about. The characters are outspoken- they don't shy away from difficult conversations or hard truths. These days, when social justice is commodified and marketed to the demographic companies think they'll make the most profit off of. I love to read things where characters aren't just fueled by the desire to say or do the right thing for its own sake, but rather because they have an inherent standard of how people should be treated, and don't put up with prejudiced, sexist, and racist crap that's so scarily common and prevalent in our society, the kind that just seeps into everyday life. Ignorance is frustratingly plentiful on the small island off of Seattle where this story is set; there's a side theme involving the history of Japanese internment camps that Muir's badass new friend Kira explains to her, with a poignant personal stake that is revealed throughout the story. Then there's Sean, a sharp, delightful charming teen that works with Muir as a volunteer in a sort of wilderness camp for kids. Sean has that Steve Rogers, golden boy vibe- in a fantasy or sci-fi story, he'd be the hero archetype. He's generous with his time and kindness (almost to a fault sometimes), and has an adorable crush on Muir that she's not quite sure how to deal with. I mean, when you've spent so long creating a barrier around yourself, meant to keep others from seeing any deep than the surface of who you are, it's bound to be confusing and cause a whirlpool of emotions within you. This is another area where Muir shines as a protagonist; she's emotionally mature and perceptive enough to comprehend her own emotions, and even the emotions of those around her, but she's been through hardships that have influenced how she thinks about things (or how she thinks she should think about things- always, always for her own survival, to protect herself). A big theme in this book is Muir's relationship with the ordeals she's been through. There's a pair of foster parents who told her she was missing a piece of herself due to the abandonment she experienced as a baby. There's the preconceived notion people have of her that because she's a foster child, she's damaged and bound to lash out eventually. And Muir rages silently against that, in her own mind. She's mad at it, but it affects her too. Muir tends to think in what's called black and white/all or nothing type thinking, something that raised a lot of sympathy within me as I was reading the book. For her, there's 50 percent chance that life after aging out of the system will result in her either becoming a doped-up meth-head, pregnant, or both. Maybe that sounds silly, and certain characters in the book express incredulity that Muir, a teen with such a good head on her shoulders, could legitimately end up like that. But Muir believes it down to her core, or at least has spent so long thinking it that it's become a fundamental part of who she is. Therein lies the beauty of this book; Muir's journey of challenging herself and her own thoughts, the realization that the people around her are changing her way of thinking for the better. The fact that she's spent so much time exercising control over the narrative of her life, but in this new town and place she tries so hard to firmly tell herself she cannot and will not get used or attached to, that there are people who are slowly, softly, carefully undoing her sense of inadequacy and belief that she somehow doesn't deserve good things happening to her. It's a excellent story, one I actually found myself laughing out loud during, and not gonna lie, 10/10 teared up at towards the end. Seriously, read this book. It's a superb entry into YA realistic fiction, and I absolutely commend Jennifer Longo for writing such an amazing, sincere and honest story about an oft-misunderstood topic.

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