The Echo Park Castaways
From the author of The Other Boy comes a poignant and heartfelt novel that explores what it means to be a family. Perfect for fans of Counting by 7s.Nevaeh, Vic, and Mara are veterans of the Los Angeles foster care system. For over a year they’ve been staying with Mrs. K in Echo Park. Vic spends most of his time living in a dream world, Mara barely speaks, and Nevaeh is forced to act as a back-up parent. Though their situation isn’t ideal, it’s still their best home yet.Then Child Protective Services places Quentin in the house, and everything is turned upside down. Nevaeh really can’t handle watching over anyone else, especially a boy on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, Quentin is having trouble adjusting and attempts to run away.So when Vic realizes Quentin just wants to see his mom again, he plans an “epic quest” to reunite them. It could result in the foster siblings getting sent to different group homes. But isn’t family always worth the risk?

The Echo Park Castaways Details

TitleThe Echo Park Castaways
Author
ReleaseJul 2nd, 2019
PublisherHarperCollins
ISBN-139780062427717
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fiction, Family Law, Fostering, Realistic Fiction

The Echo Park Castaways Review

  • Carli
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐💫/5. Three foster siblings tel their story as a fourth child with autism joins them. Nevaeh is the oldest, acting as a mother to Vic, an ADHD boy who lives in a fantasy world most of the time, and Mara, a little girl who barely speaks English. Quentin joins them, and only talks about finding his mother; the four set out on a day that changes them. This is a quick read, and the characters are lively except Mara, who never narrates. I wish I could have heard her story. Regardless, this is a goo ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫/5. Three foster siblings tel their story as a fourth child with autism joins them. Nevaeh is the oldest, acting as a mother to Vic, an ADHD boy who lives in a fantasy world most of the time, and Mara, a little girl who barely speaks English. Quentin joins them, and only talks about finding his mother; the four set out on a day that changes them. This is a quick read, and the characters are lively except Mara, who never narrates. I wish I could have heard her story. Regardless, this is a good purchase for middle school shelves.
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  • M.L. Little
    January 1, 1970
    @kidlitexchange #partner: The Echo Park Castaways by @m.g.hennessey and @harperkid. Releases 7-2-19. ————I read this book in a day and it was a total, surprising DELIGHT. The title refers to four mismatched foster kids who despite living Los Angeles have never seen the ocean—a reminder of the sad reality for so, so many kids. Each dealing with their own struggles, they unite for an “epic quest” to return their foster brother to his biological mom before it’s too late. There are barely any others @kidlitexchange #partner: The Echo Park Castaways by @m.g.hennessey and @harperkid. Releases 7-2-19. ————I read this book in a day and it was a total, surprising DELIGHT. The title refers to four mismatched foster kids who despite living Los Angeles have never seen the ocean—a reminder of the sad reality for so, so many kids. Each dealing with their own struggles, they unite for an “epic quest” to return their foster brother to his biological mom before it’s too late. There are barely any others characters and no sub-plots outside of these four kids and what they are doing. These four beautiful, broken, wonderful, lovable kids who I wanted to hug the entire time. Nevaeh, the gifted teenager with too much stress and responsibilities who also manages to be realistically childlike, imagining the puppy she was forced to give up still waiting for her in the same spot years later. Quentin, the eleven-year-old Autistic boy who only wants to go home. Vic, the hyper-active, gold-hearted ten-year-old who I dare you not to fall completely in love with. And Mara, who is eight and sweet and much smarter than her non-English-speaking self gives onto. Most of the book just follows them on their one-day "epic quest" and they are four of the most heartbreaking, lovable, real kids I have ever read. They broke my heart and warmed it at the same time. AMAZING characters. I would have torn this book to shreds as a kid and I tore it to shreds now. You can do the same on July 2nd!Thank you @kidlitexchange and @harperkid for the review copy of this marvelous book—all opinions are my own.
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  • Librariann
    January 1, 1970
    As a story, I enjoyed reading this, but it also felt dated in its treatment. Foster kids with differences and hearts of gold help each other find fulfillment - the characters were strong and unique, but seemed to carry stereotypes. Even the note that the author worked in the LA foster system didn't make it feel less disingenuous. Not up to Gen Z standards.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    * Review if of an advanced reader copyThere are several things to like about this book. First and foremost, the story is about children living in foster care, a group which is definitely underrepresented in literature. For that reason alone, this is a novel worth sharing. Next, three of the characters alternate telling the story from their individual perspectives so the reader is afforded more than one interpretation of events. Additionally, there is a gritty reality to some of the problems enco * Review if of an advanced reader copyThere are several things to like about this book. First and foremost, the story is about children living in foster care, a group which is definitely underrepresented in literature. For that reason alone, this is a novel worth sharing. Next, three of the characters alternate telling the story from their individual perspectives so the reader is afforded more than one interpretation of events. Additionally, there is a gritty reality to some of the problems encountered by the characters, a side of life which many youngsters may not often see portrayed on television and in the movies.My main grievance with the novel is the manner is with Quentin, a child on the autism spectrum. The chapters told from his point of view were decent. However, his portrayal from the eyes of his fellow foster "siblings" reads almost like a caricature of an autistic boy. At times he comes across as odd, to the point of being laughable. My concern is that children unfamiliar with the condition will develop the wrong impression. Keep in mind, the book I read was an advanced copy. Perhaps the author will make changes or include an informational section about autism and/or resources for further education.One last thought: only one of the children in the foster home does not share her story. I thought it would have made for a terrific ending for the final chapter to be told from her point of view.
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  • Kelly Hager
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked The Other Boy, but this was so much better. (At this rate, Hennessey's next book may actually kill me with how amazing it is. A third book hasn't been announced yet; I hope there will be one soon.) I feel like I compare every middlegrade book I love to Katherine Paterson, but this does have shades of The Great Gilly Hopkins. (The kids aren't particularly close at first but this quest really brings them together and makes them bond, which means they do basically become a family...b I really liked The Other Boy, but this was so much better. (At this rate, Hennessey's next book may actually kill me with how amazing it is. A third book hasn't been announced yet; I hope there will be one soon.) I feel like I compare every middlegrade book I love to Katherine Paterson, but this does have shades of The Great Gilly Hopkins. (The kids aren't particularly close at first but this quest really brings them together and makes them bond, which means they do basically become a family...but will they be allowed to stay together?)This is a sweet, fast read; it's incredibly short (barely 200 pages, according to Goodreads; I read an e-galley on my Kindle) but it's deceptively deep. Highly recommended.
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  • Renae McBrian
    January 1, 1970
    This was such a unique and fun story. I'll write a proper review soon, but M.G. Hennessey is doing important things here!
  • Jennybeast
    January 1, 1970
    Great story about a struggling foster home, and the four kids who are making it work. They all have challenges, but the newest boy, Quentin, has Asberger's and is trying desperately to get back to his mom. This isn't a super happy read, and that is part of its appeal -- realistic, contemporary fiction about how to live when your options are hard, and how to triumph by taking care of each other. Lots of heart.Advanced Reader's copy provided by edelweiss.
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  • Sara Strand
    January 1, 1970
    I am giving this one a 4.5 star ONLY because I kind of wish we got an epilogue, like a "where are they now" but a few years ahead, but that's me being picky. I absolutely loved this book and if you are a teacher or librarian, this is going to be a great addition (ages 8-12, grades 3-7). It's a fast read and could even be done as a read aloud. It follows the (sometimes sad) story of four foster children on their "quest" to find Quentin's mom. I felt like the ending was sad but also hopeful, and i I am giving this one a 4.5 star ONLY because I kind of wish we got an epilogue, like a "where are they now" but a few years ahead, but that's me being picky. I absolutely loved this book and if you are a teacher or librarian, this is going to be a great addition (ages 8-12, grades 3-7). It's a fast read and could even be done as a read aloud. It follows the (sometimes sad) story of four foster children on their "quest" to find Quentin's mom. I felt like the ending was sad but also hopeful, and it was really the perfect ending for each of them. It's a sad glimpse into the life of children in the foster care system, but also the overwhelming case load of someone who is in charge of placing children. Throughout their quest they run into challenges and obstacles as they navigate their way around Los Angeles and they learn what it means to be family, how you might now always like them but you always love them. Very good book.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusNeveah has been in the foster care system her whole life, and has seen less than optimal placements. That's why she's glad to be with Mrs. K. The house is fairly organized, there is always food, and no one is mean to her. Mrs. K., however, has struggled since the death of her husband and is not very interested in being involved with the children, so a lot of the care of the younger Mara and Vic falls on her shoulders. She's okay with that-- if she can help Mrs. K. E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusNeveah has been in the foster care system her whole life, and has seen less than optimal placements. That's why she's glad to be with Mrs. K. The house is fairly organized, there is always food, and no one is mean to her. Mrs. K., however, has struggled since the death of her husband and is not very interested in being involved with the children, so a lot of the care of the younger Mara and Vic falls on her shoulders. She's okay with that-- if she can help Mrs. K. out, her place is secure, and she can make it through the four years of high school and get into college on a scholarship for foster children and become a doctor. When a new child, Quentin, is added to the mix, things start to get complicated. It's difficult enough that Vic deals with his grief by pretending to be a spy, and that Mara rarely speaks, and is more fluent in Spanish, but Quentin is on the autism spectrum and has a lot of different behavioral issues than Neveah has seen. When Vic promises Quentin that they will go find his mother, who is ill and in the hospital, Neveah panics when all three younger children are gone, and follows their trail from Echo Park to Torrance, California (about twenty miles) on a variety of buses and trains. She catches up with them eventually, but the trip in general does not go smoothly. The children find out some secrets, narrowly escape tragedy, and bond in a way that makes them more of a family. They also finally get through to Mrs. K., who realizes that she must move beyond her own difficulties to care for the children. Strengths: I love Neveah's attitude about life! Things are great, but they could be worse, and if she works hard enough, things will get better! I wish more middle grade characters embraced this philosophy! Vic's spy interests seem a bit quirky, but are well described, Mara's silence is understandable, and Quention's depiction is realistic for a child on the spectrum with few life experiences. Their adventure to Torrance is also portrayed realistically, with enough challenges to make it interesting, but with no horrible consequences. I enjoyed this one a lot. Weaknesses: Ever since Linda Mullaly Hunt's One for the Murphy's, I've been careful about books involving foster care. There were portions of this that seemed odd to me (Nevaeh describes the people who foster children as either very religious, in it for the money, or old, and she describes a placement where children were forced to make dog beds after school each day before being fed. I'm sure there are horrible foster parents out there, and since Hennessy works with children in foster care in LA, so I will assume she knows more about children in the program than I do. What I really think: I wish the cover were a little better, but I think this book will circulate with my readers who like problem novels. This author's other book, The Other Boy does well. Definitely purchasing.
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  • Laura Gardner
    January 1, 1970
    The Other Boy is a big hit in my middle school library, so I was eager to read this book. I read it in nearly one sitting and really enjoyed the story about four foster siblings going on an adventure together and becoming a family in the process. I was confused, though, why Mara didn't get to tell her side of the story given that the other three kids did. Is it because she speaks Spanish? It bothered me so much that it really got in the way of my enjoying the book as much as I wanted to.
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    Foster home life isn't easy. Nevaeh is grateful for landing in Mrs. K's home, since she's been in some pretty bad ones. Vic claims to be a kid spy, though nobody believes him. Mara hardly says a word, and can't speak much English. Quentin is the newest addition, a boy with Asperger's who doesn't know why he can't go back home. When the four go on a quest to find Quentin's mother, they find their own patchwork family on the journey, together. Foster life is often glossed over, and the hardships t Foster home life isn't easy. Nevaeh is grateful for landing in Mrs. K's home, since she's been in some pretty bad ones. Vic claims to be a kid spy, though nobody believes him. Mara hardly says a word, and can't speak much English. Quentin is the newest addition, a boy with Asperger's who doesn't know why he can't go back home. When the four go on a quest to find Quentin's mother, they find their own patchwork family on the journey, together. Foster life is often glossed over, and the hardships that children face there aren't realized. This is a beautiful and eye-opening read from a highly underrated author.
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  • Mari Johnston
    January 1, 1970
    This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.content warnings: death of a parent, foster care, cancer, deportation of a parentStories of children in foster care are always desperately needed, especially when it comes to the age of middle grade. Kids need to be able to see themselves in stories for a wide variety of reasons, and M.G. Hennessey’s second novel, The Echo Park Castaways, gives them that opportunity. And while I’m glad this book is available to those that This review and many others can also be found at Musings of a (Book) Girl.content warnings: death of a parent, foster care, cancer, deportation of a parentStories of children in foster care are always desperately needed, especially when it comes to the age of middle grade. Kids need to be able to see themselves in stories for a wide variety of reasons, and M.G. Hennessey’s second novel, The Echo Park Castaways, gives them that opportunity. And while I’m glad this book is available to those that need it, I can’t say that it comes without issues.The overall story of The Echo Park Castaways was fantastic! Things moved at a really great pace and made it easy for me to finish the book in a single sitting because I found myself wanting to know what would happen. The events that took place were also believable. Had the characters been adults, none of the story would have happened, but these were kids and the decisions they made felt authentic.When it comes to the characters, things were hit and miss. Nevaeh was incredible and so strong when she found herself in an unfortunate and unfair situation. I really loved seeing her growth and development throughout the story. Vic was a little too over the top for me, but by the end, I was able to understand why. He also showed great development which is a crucial component to any story.Quentin was a wonderful character and I felt that the chapters from his perspective were written well. What I didn’t like when it came to him was how the others treated him and his Asperger’s. This part of him was mostly seen as a laughable thing throughout the entire book. Children are so impressionable and we have to start doing better about the message we are sending them when it comes to people with medically challenging lives.Something else that bothered me was how Mara was the only character that never got her own POV. It’s mentioned numerous times that she doesn’t speak much English and knows only Spanish, but why does that mean her story is less important? Everybody deserves to have their truth told through books. By choosing to leave this character out, the author erased the chance for kids like Mara to see themselves.The Echo Park Castaways has great potential to do well, especially in middle school libraries. This story is great for kids who enjoy books about real-life problems and determined characters. I just hope that adults are taking the time to also read this and then talking to their students to help them recognize the good parts and learn from the bad.A physical finished copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • ryder l.m.
    January 1, 1970
    I loved it. It was funny, sad, cute and isolated in a good way. It didn’t stay as safe as possible, like with Quentin’s mom’s death and the kind of twist about Vic’s made up spy journey to break his dad out of prison that I kind of thought was a real thing in the beginning.
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  • Namrata
    January 1, 1970
    With that cover, I'm happier by the second!
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