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Home Girl
Alex Wheatle

Black Sheep
September 3, 2019 / ISBN 1617757535
Teen / Fiction

Reviewed by Nicole Merritt

Alex Wheatle has written a contemporary story of a young girl, Naomi, who has never had a real home. She has grown up in the foster care system, shuffled from one family to another, never connecting, distrusting, and hardened. When her caseworker sends her to a temporary situation with an African American family, she remains stoic yet vulnerable to their kindness. Yet, she still cannot trust completely, spurring her to run away. She runs to her grandmother, whom she can connect. Her foster father finds her and takes her “home,” a word not familiar to Naomi.

She has girlfriends in the system, which like her, have had bad experiences while in care. This leads Naomi to distrust all men. When her friend makes a move on her, Naomi realizes she must rely on her new family and this scares her. Her caseworker, Louise, is overworked and apathetic to her true needs but Naomi’s only real protector and advisor. Her temporary family finds Naomi distrustful but continues to treat her as one of their own. As she becomes more indoctrinated into their life, she softens and begins to accept kindness and love.

Wheatle has written a poignant, yet real story of a young girl caught in the foster system trying to survive. This is not your average story. It is a story of hope. The conversational style in the writing is true to life form and immediately draws the reader into Naomi’s story.

It is a story of one girl’s journey through the foster system, but speaks to every child who has ever been placed in foster care. This book is refreshing and hopeful. It is a must read for any social worker, administrator, and young adult who is or has been associated with child placement in foster care.

Reviewed 2019