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The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

Hi, I’m Liam, today's book reviewer, and a 26-year-old working at a property law firm. Growing up in foster and kinship care has made me passionate about reforming these systems, and I believe that education is a critical starting point. Books like the ones I'm about to review are especially meaningful to me because they tell our stories and make them accessible to everyone. Reading them is inspiring and comforting, as they make me feel less alone.

As a child, reading was one of my few permitted hobbies in foster care; other activities, like listening to music and dancing, were banned. Reading became my escape and a cherished pastime. Recently, I rediscovered my love for books after years of avoiding childhood memories. This rediscovery has reignited my passion for writing, a subject I adored in school. I hope to channel this renewed passion into making a difference.


"The Quiet You Carry" is a gripping young adult novel that explores the harrowing yet resilient journey of Victoria, a teenager thrown into the foster care system after escaping an abusive home environment. Nikki Barthelmess, herself a former foster child, crafts a narrative with authenticity and emotional depth. The book delves into themes of trauma, survival, and the search for self-worth amidst adversity.

 The characters in "The Quiet You Carry" are incredibly well-developed and stir a strong sense of empathy. Victoria, the protagonist, is portrayed with such depth that you can't help but feel deeply connected to her journey. Her struggles and triumphs are both realistic and heart-wrenching, making her a character you can truly relate to and root for. Victoria’s emotional rollercoaster is depicted with authenticity. Her reactions to the trauma she faces, the gradual building of trust with her foster family, and her interactions with peers all ring true to life. The novel captures the nuances of her experiences, making her journey believable and relatable.


From the very beginning, "The Quiet You Carry" grips the reader's attention. The narrative is both intense and moving, with moments of tension that keep the reader invested. Key scenes, such as Victoria's initial escape from her abusive home and her subsequent adjustment to foster care, are particularly impactful. The themes of trauma, resilience, and self-discovery are explored deeply and satisfactorily. Barthelmess uses Victoria’s story to highlight the often overlooked emotional and psychological impacts of foster care, providing a voice to many who share similar experiences.


Without giving away the plot, the ending of "The Quiet You Carry" is both hopeful and realistic. It provides a sense of closure while acknowledging that Victoria’s journey is ongoing, much like the real-life experiences of many foster youth. There are no noticeable plot holes or inconsistencies. The story flows smoothly, with each event logically following from the last, creating a cohesive and engaging narrative. The pacing of the novel is well-balanced. While there are moments of intense emotion and high stakes, Barthelmess also allows for quieter, introspective scenes that give the reader time to reflect on Victoria’s experiences.


Barthelmess’s voice is both compelling and credible. Her background and personal experiences with the foster care system lend an authenticity to the narrative that is palpable throughout the book. Her writing is clear, emotive, and engaging. Upon finishing "The Quiet You Carry," the primary emotion is one of deep empathy and hope. The reader is left with a profound respect for Victoria’s strength and a greater understanding of the complexities of the foster care experience. Barthelmess’s personal connection to the subject matter shines through, making this a powerful and moving read.


Quotes such as “Victoria isn’t me, I often tell people, but her emotions are real” underscore the authenticity of the character's experiences. Another passage, “You are not the thing that has or continues to hurt you. You matter. You are worthy of love,” reflects the novel's overarching message of self-worth and resilience.


In conclusion, "The Quiet You Carry" is a vital and engaging novel that offers an unflinching look at the realities of foster care. Barthelmess’s compelling storytelling and authentic voice make this a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the nuanced experiences of foster care from the perspective of the child living through it.

You can follow Liam on Twitter: @lhmr97 

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