Bernadette and Conor have a very special relationship. He is a boy in care, and she has befriended him. Conor had been through many foster homes before meeting Bernadette, and she has her own demons back at home. When Conor goes missing on the way home from school Bernadette must focus on what she has learned about him before it is too late.
Bernadette and Conor take turns to unravel the truth with snippets from his lifebook to help fill in the gaps. Reading about Conor’s life from a young age makes him immediately endearing. He doesn’t deserve the tough start in life that being in care has given him. He is mischievous and troubled but a loveable character with it.
“I’m not scared of strangers. I’ve met loads of them. I’ve lived with them all my life.”
Bernadette’s past is equally sad in some ways, a life she wouldn’t have chosen but found herself there nonetheless.
Throughout the book I couldn’t help but be full of admiration for those who befriend care children. Fostering is a tough job (I grew up in a temporary foster family) but befriending a care child also seems such a huge commitment. If things don’t work out in a foster home the child moves on. To befriend a child you’re committing to be so much more than that; their rock, their routine, their constant in a world full of uncertainty and change. It’s a part of the care process I hadn’t really seen before.
Louise has written a very balanced view of foster care without sensationalising it. I felt Conor’s story could have been that of any of the children that came to live with my family while a more permanent home was organised. There is so much more to the book than the care system itself. Bernadette’s own life brings added complication and keeps the reader desperate to find out the truth.
A similar book you may enjoy is Shtum by Jem Lester.
You can buy The Mountain In My Shoe here Amazon.co.uk
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