The Risk of Us
Nearly half a million children are in foster care. Most placements fail. Will seven-year-old Maresa's?
"It starts with a face in a binder. CHILDREN AVAILABLE, reads the cover." So begins Rachel Howard's intimate and heartbreaking novel about a couple hoping to adopt a child from foster care, then struggling to make it as a family. Seven-year-old Maresa arrives with an indomitable spirit, a history of five failed foster care "placements," and a susceptibility to angry panic attacks fueled by memories of abuse. Maresa's new foster mother, whose name the reader never learns, brings good intentions but also her own history of trauma, while her husband's heart condition threatens to explode. These three flawed but deeply human characters want more than anything to love each other--but how does a person get to unconditional love? Over the course of a year, as Maresa approaches the age at which children become nearly impossible to place, all three must discover if they can move from being three separate people to a true family—or whether, almost unthinkably, the adoption will fail.
Written in a spare and thought-provoking style evoking aspects of Jenny Offill and Rachel Cusk, The Risk of Us deftly explores the inevitable tests children bring to a marriage, the uncertainties of family life, and the ways true empathy obliterates our defenses.