The Perfect Parent Project
THINGS MY PERFECT PARENTS MUST HAVE:
1. A mega mansion like the ones footballers live in
2. A garage wall with a basketball hoop
3. No gerbils
4. Holidays to Disneyland
All Sam wants is a family of his own, a home instead of a 'house' and parents he knows will still be there when he wakes up. Because Sam has been in and out of foster care his whole life and he can't imagine ever feeling like he truly belongs.
Then his best friend Leah suggests that rather than wait for a family to come to him, he should go out and find one. So begins The Perfect Parent Project ... But Sam may just discover that family has a funny way of finding you.
The Perfect Parent Project by Stewart Foster really resonated with me. It is the story of 11 year old Sam, a foster kid who has been moved from pillar to post for as long as he can remember. This book is heartwarming and funny and I felt so much empathy for Sam as he went on his quest to find the perfect parents.
Stewart Foster has that wonderful talent in a writer to see the world through the eyes of a child. And this is the key to this book-you see the world through Sam's eyes but you are also removed from it and see it as an outside observer. Following Sam through his journey felt painful at time because Sam is a child that doesn't trust anyone. Watching him put up barriers and reject people for fear of them rejecting him first is heartbreaking.
I have taught children like Sam; perhaps that's why the book resonated so much. I could feel his pain and understand why he doesn't trust people-experience has taught him that he isn't really wanted, he will eventually get moved on wherever he finds himself. His defences are up so high that he doesn't even really bother making an effort most of the time he expects to be rejected. I found myself feeling anguish reading this because Sam couldn't see what was right in front of him: people who love and care for him.
Despite the way I have made it sound, the book is actually very warm and full of laughter and lovely moments. The support network around Sam are hugely likeable, from his best friend Leah (even though he can't bring himself to tell her she's his best friend) to Reilly, the son of the foster family he finds himself with to 'Rock Star Steve' the one constant in Sam's life, the social worker who has been with him through all his family moves.
This is a very engaging story with real heart. It is something that Stewart Foster does so skilfully in his books. He draws you in by creating characters that feel real and invites your empathy, then takes you on a journey through their lives. I recommend this book for anyone from Y4 upwards (I think there are many adults who will enjoy this as well, especially if you have any experience of foster children or children who struggle to trust people).
The book is out now, there are a couple of links below if you want to buy it.