For readers of Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree, a powerful and heartwarming look at a teen girl about to age out of the foster care system.Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she’s learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light.
Carry only what fits in a suitcase.
Toothbrush? Yes.
Socks? Yes.
Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? Nope!
There’s no room for any additional baggage.
Muir has just one year left before she ages out of the system. One year before she’s free. One year to avoid anything–or anyone–that could get in her way.

Then she meets Francine. And Kira. And Sean.

And everything changes. 




4,5 stars


I have to thank Sam @weliveandbreathebooks for that read. I swear I won’t visit her site anymore as she makes me but so many books! This one has such a gorgeous cover that I even bought the physical copy!


Once again, Sam was spot on!


This story is very emotional but in a smart way. The author never overdid anything no, the emotions come from Muir’s story self, all that she’s been going through as a kid.

Muir or Muiriel is a foster kid from her birth. She’s never known her mom and in her seventeen, nearly eighteen’s years of foster she’s been in twenty houses. Twenty! Can you imagine?

That’s why the story’s opening is on her packing light. She’s been so used to move that she does not want to carry anything unnecessary or …nearly.

Nearly, because she is carrying some small treasures collected throughout her whole life in a pillow case. Going through this cheap loot, we’ll go back to some memories, some instants of her life that made her who she is now and will explain why Muir is so adamant in being self-sufficient.

She’s been abandoned or rejected so many times that the only constant in her life, her social worker Joellen aside, is her.

““It’s a lucky thing none of them got their hands on you,” Joellen said. “You’re too good for them. This is your medal for bravery and patience. You will always have me, and I know your true family is out there, still,” she said. “They’re waiting for you.”

She didn’t know that by then I had long since found mine; I was my own true family. I could never leave. I would always take care of myself. I was all I ever needed. I knew I could never be alone, because I was enough.”

That quote really embodies who Muir became.


If you had been let down so many times, your hopes shattered again and again, would you still want to form bonds? Would you still want to find a family and risk being rejected again?

Because you were wounded? Because you were not enough?

I don’t think so. Better to anticipate and expect for the worse. Don’t rely on anyone else because when foster kids age out of the system, they are left completely alone.

In one instant, they don’t have any support anymore.


I loved that Muir was named after John Muir, a Scottish naturalist and really after all the US national parks. She identified completely with that naturalist and when she landed on a small island, across the Pudget Sound, she’ll find a job at Salishwood Environmental Education Center. This was truly Muir’s place. Among the trees, in the wilderness and teaching the small kids she so loved.

I learned tons of things about John Muir and this reminded me of my visit in Yosemite National Park.


This new beginning for Muir will be a pivotal moment in her life.

Determined not to have friends, she’ll let fierce Kira barrel in her life to have the best friendship ever. The one that made Muir fight for someone else rather than fade in the backdrop.

And when cute Sean, passionate with nature and son of two rangers showed a deep interest in Muir’s life, how could she keep her distance and be true to her “be on my own” motto?

Sean was just the perfect YA hero. Cute, polite, smart, respectful. He knew his own mind and was never deterred by Muir’s seemingly cold shoulder.

Add to the mix her new, nearly retired foster mother Francine and you have a trio of people who will root for Muir and show her that no, not everyone is leaving, even if you make a mistake. You don’t have to be perfect all the time for people to love you.


This story was filled with emotions. With friendship. With love. With angst too. And it truly read itself. I didn’t want to put it down.

Thank you Sam for recommending this story as I know that I’ll be looking for Jennifer Longo’s other books!


Do you think you have similar books to recommend?

Thanks for reading!



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  1. This one sounds so wonderful and I love seeing books that have the beautiful blend of love and friendship!! Just builds the deep intimacy you love to see.

    Great review

  2. I got a little emotional reading your review. Muir definitely imprinted on my heart, and the family she found were spectacular. So glad you enjoyed this book!