Children want more than anything to belong: to belong to parents, to belong to families, to belong to each other. In Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor, Pride Star’s mom dies and leaves her and her brother and sister in foster care where they quickly learn that they don’t belong anywhere.
They don’t belong because their mother had never put them in school, taking the controversial unschool path. It’s the ’70s and while most people are settling into the suburbs with their white picket fences and 2.5 kids, Pride and her siblings are growing up on Serenity, a cult-like farm that isn’t equipped to handle the legal requirements that come with adopting kids whose mother has just died.
Then their grandfather, Old Finn, steps in and even though he’s been estranged from their mother, he wastes no time in legally adopting them and bringing them back to his forty acre farm called Eden. Old Finn has his own reasons to live under the radar and when he gets sick enough to go to the hospital, it’s too late to set up a safety net for the Stars.
As Pride, her sister Nightingale, and brother Baby try to survive on their own without tipping off the neighbors or authorities that they are living without an adult, things start to fall apart. And their worst fear–going back into foster care–is becoming more and more of a reality every day.
Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor is a book about family, survival, and learning when to ask for help. Set during the investigation and resignation of Richard Nixon, this book would be a great fiction read to go along with a study of the political climate of the time period. Or it would just be an enjoyable read for kids who don’t always feel that they belong…which is all of us at some point, right?