With breathtaking brevity, Rachel Howard’s debut novel, “The Risk of Us,” illuminates the joys, challenges, fears and frustrations of adopting a foster child. And while she delves into the minutiae of “the system” and the differences of opinion about parenting styles, her deceptively thin volume is about much more than plunging into parenthood.
Howard masterfully illuminates how parenthood manages to bend even the most solid of marriages and expose insecurities about past relationships, including those from childhood.
In “The Risk of Us,” the unnamed narrator and her husband, Sebastian, choose 7-year-old, Maresa, “a brown-haired gremlin with arms flung like she could fly off the page” from a binder labeled “Children Available.” They spend the next year learning about Maresa, themselves and each other as well as the clearly dysfunctional foster care system in California.
Howard’s first book was a memoir, which isn’t surprising given the pages of her novel brim with emotion and vulnerability. She and her husband also are the adoptive parents of a former foster child…