In the Best Interest of the Child
by Felicia Denise
Severely injured in an accident that forever changed her life, 10-year-old Olivia becomes another faceless, under-served child in foster care. With no time to mourn or grieve, the young girl is easy prey for uncaring social workers and ambivalent foster families.
Olivia quickly learns to hold her tongue and mask her emotions. Even when exposed to neglect, bullying, and assault, no one seems to care. Holding fast to the teachings of her late father, Olivia ages out of the system broken, but no longer a victim.
Now a successful child advocate attorney, Olivia is a passionate voice for children. However, a routine case assignment by the court plunges Olivia back into the trauma of her childhood. If she doesn’t face her demons, a child will be sent into foster care, and Olivia will lose the only chance at love she’s ever had…or wanted.
Foster care for her young client is not an option. But Olivia’s emotional scars run even deeper than she realized. Reconciling with her past means Olivia must confront the one woman she blames for her battered soul.
A woman who has no idea who Olivia is.
You know the feeling when you settle down to watch a movie, one starring your favourite actor or actress, and then you realise the film is nothing like you ever expected of him/her? The same could be said of this book. I expected great things, but what I got was totally wonderful. This is a story full of heart, but grounded in pain and despair. Yet, the author finds hope and positivity in a case that could easily become just another statistic in a flawed system.
The unfortunate events that befall young Rena are far too similar for Child Advocate, Olivia Chandler, to brush aside. This time, the child she sets out to help will have a much more profound effect on her personal life. For while Olivia is the best damn advocate any child could hope for, she is also a victim of the same system – the foster care system – that threatens to leave its mark on yet another young life.
Of course, Olivia will not let that happen and, aided by a team of professionals unswerving in their desire to make a difference, she embraces the challenge with open arms and a wilful spirit.
But, she didn’t count on meeting the Bellamy family, whose resolve to care for Rena is just as strong as her own. However, this family is no ordinary family. This is a family who genuinely care, for each other and for those within their reach. And now, Olivia is in their reach – in the reach of one persistent, funny, gentle, caring and honest man – Bruce Bellamy.
The two of them fit – that’s all there is to it – they are meant to be, but that doesn’t mean things fall into place in an instant. Bruce is one resourceful chap, and his determination knows no bounds until Olivia can delay the inevitable no more. It is both hilarious and heartwarming to see these two – both with pain in their past – come together. Long may they reign!
This relationship develops as Olivia battles for Rena; her single-mindedness to act in the best interest of the child is impressive. Olivia is a force to be reckoned with. But, this case, this time, circumstances closer to home make her realise that she has to face up to her past and deal with her own demons. With Bruce’s help and encouragement she may now succeed. Fortunately, a second book awaits.
This is an engrossing read, with a cast of characters that liven up every page. You’ll find yourself laughing, crying, smiling and sighing as this story unfolds. A definite 5 star read. Bring on Book 2!