Book Review: Ann Raber “Foster Care”


Ann Raber
“Foster Care”
(Post-Traumatic Press)

Guy Kordell isn’t a bad guy. He doesn’t hurt people. He doesn’t rob, or steal, or lie. Okay, he lies to girlfriend now and again, but who doesn’t? Guy Kordell also isn’t a very good guy. He doesn’t aspire to be anything more than a pizza deliveryman, he doesn’t have any real friends, and even the aforementioned girlfriend spends most of her time on his periphery. Guy spends the majority of his time on the fringes of the punk scene, working odd hours in a club where acts like Screeching Weasel and The Queers occasionally make appearances, but even among these outcasts, Guy still isn’t at home. Because, in many ways, Guy has no real home. Guy Kordell is the product of a detached father and a depressed mother, and left free to his own devises (his own devices involving large amounts of spray-cans and cigarette lighters), young Guy quickly finds himself in the foster care system, whisked away to a new and markedly different home with new and markedly different parents. Guy Kordell is also a product of talented debut novelist Ann Raber, who allows Guy’s tale to present itself in a thoughtful, introspective manner, through the use of omnipresent flashbacks and glimpses into the fancifully dark corners of Guy’s psyche. If where we currently are is a product of where we’ve come from, then it should come as no surprise that Guy seems to occupy so very little space in his current surroundings. It is the flashes back to Guy’s childhood, told with a wide-eyed wonder and detachment that truly show just how jigsawed his life has become. Lest you think Raber is nothing more than a heartless cynic, willing to draw upon your emotions for her character’s gain, rest assured that “Foster Care” offers tons of laughs, not all of them at Guy’s expense. A quick read despite its length, “Foster Care” won’t make Oprah’s booklist (which is reason enough to buy it), but should definitely make yours.

Brian Greenaway