Last of the Summer Reads: Claire Keegan’s Foster
Amber Platel investigates the subtle power of Claire Keegan’s Foster and why it makes for a perfect summer read.
Claire Keegan’s Foster takes place over the course of a single hot summer in rural Ireland. It follows a young girl who is taken to live with her relatives on a farm, with no explanation or end date in sight. Despite the uncertainty and newness of her situation, the protagonist is given the space and the love to blossom; however, like all good things, summer must come to an end.
Foster is a book of deceptive simplicity. Keegan writes every word with purpose, each choice is effective and exact, leading to a simple and sparse yet beautiful prose, echoing the simple beauty of the summer in which the book takes place. The summer is presented as an escape from reality, with the beginning and the end of the book exposing the hard truths of everyday life. As our summer draws to a close, and September looms closer, the threat of normality echoes that of the book’s end.
Foster is a book of deceptive simplicity
Despite being a novella, only 88 pages, Foster is an incredibly engaging read. The characters are all devastatingly real, the setting is vivid, and use of Irish colloquialisms add to the realism of the book, resulting in a story that is impossible to put down.
Keegan’s book ends as abruptly as summer does. As I read the final page of Foster, in a park on a warm, sunny day, I unexpectedly burst into tears. Keegan’s writing creeps up on you. It is subtle and quiet in its power, and the impact of the simple prose hits in those last few pages. Much like how the impact of summer is only truly felt, once it is over.
Foster is the perfect book to accompany the end of summer blues.