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The Risk of Us

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  47 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A poignant, dazzling debut novel about a woman who longs to be a mother and the captivating yet troubled child she and her husband take in.

What is the cost of motherhood? When The Risk of Us opens, we meet a forty-something woman who deeply wants to become a mother. The path that opens up to her and her husband takes them through the foster care system, with the goal of a
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  47 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Angela M
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an easy book to read, yet I couldn’t put it down. It’s a short book that manages to cover complex emotions as well as the complexity of the foster care system. The story is narrated by a woman whose name we never learn and she addresses her husband, Sebastian and the troubled child, Maresa who they decide to foster with hopes of adopting. “It starts with a face in a binder. CHILDREN AVAILABLE, reads the cover. the recruitment brochure for this foster services agency says they need fa ...more
ʚϊɞ Shelley ʚϊɞ
Oh my gosh...All the stars. This is a heartbreaking tearful adventure into the frightful world of fostering to adoption. Yes it is excruciatingly sad but whether or not you enjoyed the characters portrayed in this story or even the story itself; it all pales in reality to the truth and children are the most innocent of beings.

I love that this book is fiction and reality blended. The author has accomplished both beautifully by underlining fine nuances of the psyche and emotions that run through i
Helena Echlin
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a couple’s struggle to fall in love with a child, told with lyrical precision and a complete absence of sentimentality. The unnamed narrator is a woman in her forties, a writer and teacher who comes to parenting relatively late and chooses to foster a child with a view to adoption. No surprise, her foster child is troubled and has been abused. Six-year-old Maresa is enchanting: a physically daring, rambunctious kid who likes to sing in her "opera voice" and has a generous he ...more
Felicia Grossman
THE RISK of us is an incredible book about parenting, adoptions, relationships, and the judgments and expectations society puts on everyone without any easy answers. The way the protagonist, the mother, navigated a world where there are no hard truths and even the expects weren't always right was so well done. You are with her for every moment of her difficult journey--all the doubts and baggage and hope and love and effort--you feel all of it.

The way the book gives no one, no matter how meaning
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of THE RISK OF US by Rachel Howard in exchange for my honest review.***


When Sebastian and his wife (who narrates and whose name we never learn) decide to adopt seven-year-old Maresa, they think the books they’ve read and classes they’ve taken have prepared them for the challenge. Maresa is more disturbed and her behavior more difficult than they could have imagined. Now, as adoption day draws nearer, they reconsider the commit
Cathy Branciforte
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: edelweiss
I was drawn to the subject matter of this book and was looking forward to reading it. I am glad that it was a short book because I am not sure I would've finished it if it were much longer, except that I wanted to know how it ended. The writing style was distracting and felt very detached and skipped all over the place to me. It took a few pages to figure out who the narrator was- it kept going back and forth between “I say” and “You say” and I never really grew attached to anyone in the story, ...more
Kathleen Gray
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning. Reserve judgement going into this at times difficult novel of a woman and her husband Seb who foster to adopt Maresa, a deeply damaged child. Written in some ways as a letter from the unnamed narrator to Maresa, who she refers to as Little One, it details what the couple hoped would be a wonderful experience but what was in fact a challenging, painful, and at times awful one. You can feel the narrator walking on eggshells when things are relatively calm and then kaploeey, they fall apa ...more
Diane McPhail
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rachel Howard’s THE RISK OF US is a difficult, but impossible to put down ,depiction of one couple’s heartrending journey through the challenging decision to adopt a young girl and the labyrinthian system they must negotiate to do so. Adept with language, structure, layering, and pace, Howard takes the reader on a breathtaking ride that never flinches in its authentic rendering of the difficulty of such a process or the challenges of overcoming and healing abuse. At the same time, she holds us i ...more
Constance Hale
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Risk of Us is hard to read—and almost impossible to put down. It relates the tale of three souls, each damaged in a different way and each hoping to heal by making a patched-together family. But, as Tolstoy has noted, the shoals are many when it comes to families. This trio has to deal with the ghosts of birth families, the foster-care system, and a host of therapists, social workers, and other sometimes helpful, sometimes hapless characters. What makes it possible for us to bear the heartac ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book stunned me. Rachel Howard's writing style blew me away; her simple snapshots of family life and its many devastating and blissful moments were entrancing. I read this book carefully for a week, and I was sad once I had reached the end for want of more. The first person narrative feels confessional and almost autobiographical, and despite this being a novel, I kept having the impression of reading the journal entries of a friend--truthful, raw, illuminating. In short, this is really gre ...more
Vanessa Mongeon
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story was captivating, I couldn't put the book #TheRiskofUs down. Although the subject matter was hard at times I kept reading. I felt like I was on a roller coaster, clicking slowly up one minute, racing down another. I found parts of myself in the story, the longing for family. The descriptions of the characters and their identifiers: the NRA sticker, the surfer-dude case worker, really helped me track each character. And when I thought the ride was over- I was sad. But then wait, one mor ...more
Louise Nayer
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read The Risk of Us in two days and literally couldn't put it down. Howard does an amazing job of drawing us into the details of a marriage and how it is effected by a foster child. Each character was complex and and I was rooting for all of them. Also, though the book is about a foster child and the foster system it is also about what makes a marriage and how a child changes the family dynamic-- and the strength that parents must muster to be true to themselves, true to each other and true to ...more
Natalie Murray
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book dug its nails into me from the start. I flew through it and just Couldn't. Put. It. Down. Parts of it reminded me of the agonising grit of We Need to Talk About Kevin, but I found Rachel Howard's work to be easier to get through (in a good way). Many parents will identify with this book and the daily push-and-pull of raising (even if occasionally) difficult children. Maresa, the child, was particularly compelling as a character – I'd love to see more of her on the page. Highly recommen ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh man, this was very well done. Very short, but to the point, and I loved loved loved the "you" voice ((view spoiler).)

Really takes a hard look at how much we can teach kids, and what they really understand, and how they can communicate through trauma. And the love that's shown and how everything is to an extent both conditional and unconditional was touching.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really beautiful and powerful book that I know will stay with me for a long time. I was automatically drawn to the subject matter of fostering a little girl and the effect this has on a marriage/individuals. The writing style was very unique, moving, thought provoking and intelligent. Unlike anything I've ever read before. Would definitely recommend.
Meghan Ward
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. Howard is an incredibly gifted writer who somehow took the story of a couple adopting a seven-year-old girl from the foster care system and turned it into a lyrical yet gripping page-turner. A highly recommended read for all parents, whether interested in adoption of not. A beautiful story.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An engaging account of parenthood -- of the way bringing a new life into the picture breaks everything open, with all the complexities on display. Stop browsing reviews and just jump in -- it's an addicting and quick read.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
hate second person
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Well this doesn't actually have a plot at all.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s truly exceptional.
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Rachel Howard is a writer of fiction, personal essays, memoir, and dance criticism. Her debut novel, The Risk of Us, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt April 2019, and is garnering strong advance praise. Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation, calls it "An emotionally complex and amazingly suspenseful novel about love and fear." Belle Boggs, author of The Art of Waiting, says: "R ...more
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