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Tuesday 30 June 2020

The Girl Who Wanted to Belong by Angela Hart

It's hard to conceive that some children who have a seemingly complete family unit end up in foster care. But this is what happens to Lucy. Her father and three siblings were abandoned by her mother when she was four. One stepmother didn't work out, the next one is your quintessential wicked stepmother. Lucy is hard work, it's true: over-exuberant, temperamental…a bit of a wild child. But an absent mother and then two unpleasant stepmothers certainly don't help. After being dumped on two aunties, then a grandmother, none of whom can cope with her, foster carers Angela and Jonathan take her in.

This is Angela's true story…a foster carer for many years…of Lucy. An eye-opening account of the life of a foster carer, how they cope (are they saints?) with children of wide-ranging distress and trauma, red tape, the constraints they face, and in Lucy's case, unpleasant people. 

There wasn't anything wrong with Lucy that a stable, loving, understanding family unit couldn't have put right. But enter Wendy, stepmum number two and with her, the inevitability of Lucy's behavioural deterioration and fallout of rejection. Wendy is a piece of work, an evil piece of work. As for Dean, Lucy's dad, I have nothing but contempt for him. He's a limp rag who dances to Wendy's tune. Instead of putting his immediate family first, he let Wendy and her sultry daughter rule the roost. The names have obviously been changed, but if either of them read this book, they will know who they are, and I hope they hang their heads in shame. The poignancy and heartbreak are Lucy's eternal and profound love for her daddy and steadfast conviction that her foster care is minimally temporary. 

I don't often read non-fiction books, but Hart has a very engaging style to relate her foster-caring experiences: it's like reading a (very compelling) novel. It's tragic to remember it's all true. 

We do get to learn where and how Lucy ends up. It's a bumpy road, for sure…I won't spoil it, but let's just say, Angela did good! 

I now know just a teensy bit more about foster caring than I did before. One thing is certain, some foster carers are amazing: their patience, tolerance and unconditional love for their wards is truly awesome. 


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