Thursday, January 8, 2015

Free Like Sunshine - Christina Kilbourne

Title: Free Like Sunshine
Author: Christina Kilbourne
Publisher: Bookland Press, 2014 (Paperback)
Length: 176 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: January 8, 2015
Finished: January 8, 2015

From the author's website:

All Kat really wants is a home, a forever home where she can live with her three sisters. She's even willing to give up her Disney-princess dream of living happily ever after for the chance. But giving up her birth parents for the possibility of a predictable life isn't an easy choice, no matter what they've done.

After five years of fending for herself and her little sisters, six foster homes and an eighteen-hour car ride to their new lives, Kat lives in constant fear that one of her sisters will blow it and get them sent back to Blackwater Creek.

It takes years before she believes her adopted parents will love her no matter what happens. Even then it takes her older sister running away to make Kat understand that real parents never give up on their children, and their is no time limit on forever.

5-year-old Kat lives in northern Ontario with her mother, stepfather, and her three sisters Jewel, Raven, and Janie. Their lives are tumultuous to say the least: their parents invite friends over to drink, leading to neglectful behaviour towards the girls as well as sexual abuse, and Kat frequently flees to a neighbour's house when fighting breaks out in the middle of the night. After a call to Children's Aid, the girls are removed and placed in foster care; Kat is 5, Jewel is 6, Raven is 3, and Janie is 2. Years pass, and after a bad foster home, a kidnapping attempt by their parents, and a good foster home where the girls finally thrive, their case worker informs them that all 4 sisters are able to be placed for adoption. When their new family drives them to their home hours away in southern Ontario, the girls all react differently while they wait out the honeymoon period until (they believe) their new parents will send them back.

I really appreciated this very candid and realistic account of a child in the Children's Aid system from removal, to foster care, to adoption. My husband and I went through the process to become an adoptive family through CAS before our daughter was born, and based on our experiences from our classes, the account in the novel is pretty spot on in terms of how children react in these experiences especially in terms of attachment. The only thing I found a little off was that Kat and her sisters were adopted by a white couple even though the girls are Aboriginal. CAS will only place Aboriginal children in a non-Aboriginal household if all other options have been exhausted, so I'm assuming the scenario in the book could fly based on the large size of the sibling group.

A very heartfelt, realistic account of a sibling group as they progress through the foster system into adoption.

Thoughts on the cover:
Very poignant pose, but the cover model, who I'm assuming is supposed to be Katrina, doesn't match her description in the book.

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