Foster (Faber & Faber 2010) is a novella by Claire Keegan, a writer widely acclaimed for her short stories in which she displays acuity and insightful engagement through piercing brevity and sharp observation. In Foster, which won the Davy Byrnes Award, we meet a young girl in rural Ireland who is taken by her father to stay with the Kinsella family, where she meets unsolicited kindness and unexpected hope, and where she comes to know affection. In her brief respite from home, she discovers the high price of a secret, and begins to understand the notion of shame.

This is a compact story brimming with imagery and sensation, an almost fable-like tale in which the minutiae of life bursts with colour from the page. If the boy in The Promise Seed resonated with you – his vulnerability, his innocence, his naïve loyalty and his resilience – then the girl in Foster will similarly capture your heart.