Book Review: Runaway Girl by Casey Watson

So I just finished Casey’s latest fostering Memoir Runaway girl.

The story centers around their placement of a 14 year old polish girl named AdriannaIt’s very unclear how long she’s been in the uk. She took herself to a social service office many miles away from the area inclose to London. A real barrier has been how little English she speaks that and how terrified she is when she comes to Casey and Mike’s. It’s obvious right away that she is physically unwell. And after an awkward attempt at conversation she just wants to go to bed with some pain medicine. And that’s pretty much where she stays for a couple of weeks. Which worries Casey and her family. They know so little about this girl that she could have some kind of serious illness. But she is terrified of doctors. Casey Managed to get a good colleague of her family doctor in for a home visit when Adriana burst into panic and tears. Not wanting to upset her further the Dr. after as close an examination as he could give said to let things run their course.

Slowly they did and she seemed to be getting better. Casey guessed some of it could be heavy periods as she took advantage of those type of supplies once Casey pointed them out. Though physically better Adriana was no less a mystery. A session between social services and a very ill matched interpreter did not make things any better.

With interpreters being so scarce the watsons and she just got on with it. Good thing for google translate, and her intelligent son Tyler who has polish friends at school.

A trip out shopping reveals the weight of not only Adriana’s personal struggles related to coming into care, but the cultural abuse she has to face. Some very rude people start talking about “ imigrants” in extremely hurtful terms as if Adriana weren’t even there. Much later, when Adriana is speaking better English it comes out she heard everything.

Even with the shopping trip and coaxing from Tyler who see seems to accept more readily as he’s a peer there are still no answers about why she’s really there or what she’s afraid of. If pressed, before bursting into tears she keeps saying she has no home and can’t go back.

One thing I love about Casey’s stories is the involvement of Casey’s whole family. It is a stroke of chance that when Adriana is horsing around with Casey’s newest granddaughter they realize she is an extremely good dancer. And seems to really brighten up a when talking about it. Laurin Keron’s grirfriend asks if she wants to help teach the weekly dance class. This is perfect for her and she seems to be getting genuinely happy.

Then there is a horrible accident in the studio. Adrianna just passes out. Never mind all her fears about doctors touching her she is getting the medical attention she needs. Then her whole life is exposed. Which is nothing that anyone could predict. She is sixteen it turns out. And has been in the UK for a couple of years not a month. And she had a baby the day before the placement!

When everyone calms down, and Adrianna has been given medical treatment for an infection and some surgery around her reproductive system Casey sits down with her and she opens up.

Adriana was so afraid of being deported and going to a detention center that she would let no one know anything about her even when pregnant she never went to the authorities. It’s a sad fact that it’s pounded into everyone’s heads about deportation and a general distaste for immigrants. And these extremely intelligent sensitive people take it all to heart and are in fear of their lives.

She talks about her life in Poland. The disintegration of a very ideal upperclass upbringing by a very wicked stepfather. When she could no longer take the abuse she ran away. Only to be pulled into the arms of a man who promised her everything. Only to come to England and be in a horrific trafficking ring

It seems the more she talks the more horrific traumatic disclossures are mad. And yet it’s clear in her story her resourcefulness and practicality in keeping safe to the best of her ability, staying one step ahead of her captors trying to gain the most out of bad situations by formin connections where she can. She keeps her wits about her even when she finds out she’s pregnant by the monster who brought her there in the first place.

After she had her baby (in a bathroom stall with a friend standing guard!) she brought him to the police station and left him there in a box, but one that was well insolated. She showed good judgment even though I am surprised she had any rational abilities left, in knowing what time and how and where to set the baby.

All this is completely shocking. It changes everything the family knows of Adrianna. The watsons have her back all the way as the real work of the placement begins. Reuniting her with her baby who is somewhere in London.

This of course has huge ups and downs for everyone. Which I won’t give away.

The real point of the story I feel, as does Casey, is that the placement showed her that for some people trauma can make you stronger. And the ability of the human mind to have inborn coping skills that are solid. And once a place of safety is reached and there’s even a chance of a new life, the ability to grab on tight and literally wipe the past away.

That is the attitude that she showed throughout the placement. I really liked Adrianna a lot. Her inner strength, her sensitivity and loving nature, her intelligence.

I do have to say something about Casey. She annoys me at times during hard placements in general. So much of the books are at times her very emotional inner dialogue and her needing to have to keep it together. Her wanting to make decisions, say things, do things, based on intuition rather than thinking them through. Mike balances her out with his rational responses. Some of which are teasing towards her, but others he really insists she consider and is clear on the consequences her emotionally driven actions could have for everyone. John her link worker also is a steady presence that can bring Casey back to earth after one of her flights of excitement or lows of anxiety and hopelessness in a placement.

I’m wondering if her accounts are more raw to show that probably all foster parents feel this way. From reading blogs of parents raising challenging trauma kids it is sure a rollercoaster ride. I guess it’s just different personalities. Cathy always appears so calm and even keel about everything. Maybe as she’s doing this single handedly she doesn’t have the luxury of going on and on in her head during every scene questioning herself railing against injustice ETC. I believe both authors are telling honest heartfelt stories. I just wonder how would Casey handle this single. And that her flighty too emotional personality might not last in this work without support to temper it.

The narrator’s voice in the audio version I feel personifies Casey. A higher female voice with a british accent though probably not from the same region as Cathy. She speaks slowly and also very emotionally. Which makes really intense scenes all the more powerful. It just takes getting used to the narrators voice and Casey’s personality at times.

I’m curious to hear what others think of this latest book.

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