• Stranger Care

  • A Memoir of Loving What Isn't Ours
  • By: Sarah Sentilles
  • Narrated by: Sarah Sentilles
  • Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (76 ratings)

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Stranger Care

By: Sarah Sentilles
Narrated by: Sarah Sentilles
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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Editors' Choice

"A powerful, heartbreaking, necessary masterpiece.” (Cheryl Strayed, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Wild

The moving story of what one woman learned from fostering a newborn - about injustice, about making mistakes, about how to better love and protect people beyond our immediate kin.

May you always feel at home.

After their decision not to have a biological child, Sarah Sentilles and her husband, Eric, decide to adopt via the foster care system. Despite knowing that the system’s goal is the child’s reunification with the birth family, Sarah opens their home to a flurry of social workers who question them, evaluate them, and ultimately prepare them to welcome a child into their lives - even if it means most likely having to give the child back. After years of starts and stops, and endless navigation of the complexities and injustices of the foster care system, a phone call finally comes: a three-day-old baby girl named Coco, in immediate need of a foster family. Sarah and Eric bring this newborn stranger home. 

“You were never ours”, Sarah tells Coco, “yet we belong to each other.” 

A love letter to Coco and to the countless children like her, Stranger Care chronicles Sarah’s discovery of what it means to mother - in this case, not just a vulnerable infant but the birth mother who loves her, too. Ultimately, Coco’s story reminds us that we depend on family, and that family can take different forms. With prose that Nick Flynn has called “fearless, stirring, rhythmic”, Sentilles lays bare an intimate, powerful story with universal concerns: How can we care for and protect one another? How do we ensure a more hopeful future for life on this planet? And if we're all related - tree, bird, star, person - how might we better live?

©2021 Sarah Sentilles (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"In prose so gripping it reads like a thriller, Sentilles describes the choices that led to the moment when she and her husband are on the phone with a social worker, saying yes to fostering a three-day-old girl.... What makes this book so powerful is that by experiencing motherhood through the lens of fostering, Sentilles is able to look at the wrenching and worn-out topics of parenting in a new way.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“A heartbreaking memoir that, if you let it, will change the way you understand love and loyalty and family and caretaking and belonging.” (Chicago Tribune

“An astonishing account of motherhood experienced through the complex lens of foster parenting.” (Shelf Awareness

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What listeners say about Stranger Care

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  • Overall
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Great book for foster parents!

This book help us move forward from the lost (at the same time the gain) of walking with the biological dad of a baby that we foster since his 3 day of life. I will recommend this books to anyone in the process of fostering.

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That’s it?

As a fellow foster parent and social worker, I’m confused by the ending. What ever happened in the court proceeding with Coco once the family hired an attorney? What an odd place to end a book. Also, no state will send a child across state lines without having an agreement in place between both states (ICPC) so I’m shocked that the family’s attorney didn’t advise them of this from the get go. Or maybe the attorney did and it wasn’t shared in the book. We also don’t hear about what happened after Coco came back into care a second time and if either parent was successful in having her return home… I was also extremely turned off at how the author was so against reunification, hoping that the parent wouldn’t succeed and even when Evelyn seemed to be doing better and reunification appeared feasible, the support towards mother seemed very half-assed and borderline manipulative. It was also disheartening to hear about the number of children they turned down and how long their foster care license was open before they decided they wanted to foster Coco. It felt like the family had 0% interest in actually providing foster care (which is intended to be temporary). The family really should’ve went the route of private adoption.

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Heartbreaking and beautiful

This was so gripping and moving — could not stop listening. Such a story of love.

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Would not recommend.

Between the readers monotonous delivery and the unlikability of the main characters, I did not enjoy this book.

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Beautiful story of love

For those of us who foster, this is such a raw and beautiful reflection of what we go through, the love, the loss.
Sarah, I would love to connect with you, I’m writing as well and would love your thoughts. Twitter @mujazul