Foster, by Claire Keegan

Foster by Claire Keegan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Foster” by Claire Keegan is a short story about (parental) love. A girl from an economically-challenged family is sent to relatives, Mrs. and Mr. Kinsella (who have lost their only child), to be temporarily cared for. The Kinsellas seem to be slightly better off than the girl’s parents but certainly not much.

The strength of this short story lies in what’s implied: From the very beginning the unnamed girl is treated with kindness. When she wets her bed, her foster mother scolds herself (and the mattress!) for putting the girl on an old “weeping” mattress and simply goes on to clean it with the girl’s help.

The girl’s foster father takes her on a walk and while talking to her, gives her all the room to respond or to remain silent (and explicitly tells her so) – whatever the girl needs. He simply takes her hand and guides her along her way. Letting her go and return, letting himself be carried by the girl’s quiet joy…

During her stay over the summer, the girl lives through completely ordinary situations but the Kinsellas do not just give her food and lodging but share their lives and love. They completely open up to the girl and allow themselves to feel for her and treat her like the girl was their own child.

The girl herself realises her own incipient tender feelings only at the very end of this story.

The writing is immaculate, the pacing is great and the length of less than 15.000 words is perfect. This is probably the most emotional, tender, and kind short story I’ve read so far.

Five out of five stars for the shortest masterpiece I’ve read. Highly recommended!

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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