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The Quiet You Carry

Review

The Quiet You Carry

THE QUIET YOU CARRY by Nikki Barthelmess tells the fictional story of Victoria Parker, a girl thrust into the Nevada foster care system at age 17 after a domestic dispute with her father prompted the neighbors to call the police.

When the authorities arrived on the Parker property, Victoria was quick to say the situation was a misunderstanding, suppressing the truth out of fear. Before her mother lost her battle to breast cancer just four years before these events took place, she promised her that she would take care of her father. Now, as her father’s fate lies in the hands of her word choice, she stays quiet.

"Nikki Barthelmess’ debut novel shines a light on the foster care system while simultaneously pulling at the heart strings of readers....The striking character development makes for a story you simply will not be able to put down."

Her father, meanwhile, places the blame on her, telling Child Protective Services he does not want her living in his house. Upon this declaration, Victoria is forced to take only the belongings of hers which she needs and leave her father, step-mother and step-sister Sarah behind. She is soon transported from Reno to the small town of Silver Valley, where she is placed in a strict foster home and enrolled in high school. She makes friends, despite her constant efforts to go unnoticed, and forms bonds with her foster siblings, all the while denying the truth of her and her father’s relationship.

However, a foster sibling’s tragic accident in the home forces her to look at things differently. She forces her way back into Sarah’s life, fearing her father may be doing the same to Sarah that he did to her before she left. With the help of her friend, Christina, and love interest, Kale, she is able to travel to Reno and talk with Sarah while her father and Sarah’s mother are out to lunch. One thing leads to another, and Victoria soon finds herself face to face with her father one more time. With all eyes on her, she is forced to make a decision: will she keep her promise to her mother or do what she knows is right?

Nikki Barthelmess’ debut novel shines a light on the foster care system while simultaneously pulling at the heart strings of readers. Her own experience in the Nevada foster care system inspired her to write the novel to give kids like herself something to rely on. The striking character development makes for a story you simply will not be able to put down. I found myself increasingly frustrated with Victoria’s thought process and slow realization of the truth, but was also shocked at how the author’s careful word choice and descriptions put me in Victoria’s shoes and forced me to think as she did. How Nikki Barthelmess’ book got me to understand a thought process and belief system I didn’t agree with at all still amazes me.

I would recommend THE QUIET YOU CARRY to anyone over the age of 14 looking for a rollercoaster ride of a reading experience. Fair warning, there are significant mentions of grief, sexual assault, familial abuse, physical and mental illnesses and suicide, all while centering around life in the foster system. Because of these factors, I would not recommend the book to anyone under the age of 14 or anyone who has experienced firsthand tragedy involving any of these topics, for some scenes may be difficult for some readers.

I would particularly recommend the book to anyone who has been or is currently in the foster system. Nikki Barthelmess’ firsthand experience brings an element of hope to the novel. The foster care system is often associated with poor outcomes, but Nikki’s success story is one that needs to be shared. Prepare yourself to fall deeply in love with the characters and become emotionally invested in the plot and give THE QUIET YOU CARRY a chance.

Reviewed by Grace W., Teen Board Member on March 19, 2019

The Quiet You Carry
by Nikki Barthelmess