By Rachel Howard
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, ISBN: 978-1-328-58882-1, 198 pages, $23
“The Risk of Us” tells the story of a California couple hoping to add to their family in this fictional memoir-style novel. Author Rachel Howard draws on her own experience as an adoptive mom and writes from the perspective of the unnamed mother who adopts 7-year-old Maresa with her husband Sebastian. The story begins as the couple takes the first steps to start the foster-to-adopt process and continues as they welcome Maresa into their family. The couple and the young child forge a relationship, experiencing many ups and downs as they adjust and struggle to address some of Maresa’s behaviors. Along the way, they work with caseworkers and others who help them navigate the difficulties until they ultimately finalize the adoption of the young girl.
This reviewer was not overly fond of the writing style, but the book does have many benefits as it is a fairly accurate depiction of what many couples experience when they decide to foster to adopt. Howard references many current resources that families rely on to learn about adoptions from foster care and understand the trauma many children in the system face from their early childhood experiences.
It’s clear that “The Risk of Us” has been written by someone who understands the process well. Foster and adoptive families will most likely relate well to the story and those considering adopting from foster care may find some valuable takeaways from the read. — Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel