Sarah Sentilles and Charlotte Wood
Time & Location
About The Event
About the Event
In the lead up to Mothers Day, we are delighted to host this conversation between acclaimed authors Sarah Sentilles and Charlotte Wood about Sarah's new book Stranger Care - the moving story of what she learned from fostering a newborn—about injustice, about making mistakes and about what it means to mother. Stranger Care is about loving a child without boundaries, without bloodlines & without limits.
This FREE event will take place on Zoom.
The Zoom meeting details form part of your ticket, emailed to you after registration.
About the Book
Stranger Care is 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.
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?
Praise for the Book
“Sarah Sentilles’ Stranger Care is an illuminating and heart wrenching look at the foster care system in America, which includes half a million children and disproportionately impacts parents and kids of color. Sarah's personal experience as a foster parent, combined with her reportorial examination of a deeply flawed system, makes Stranger Care a transformative revelation.” —Piper Kerman, Author of Orange Is the New Black
“In STRANGER CARE, Sarah Sentilles offers us a book that calls us to redefine what it means to have and make a family, to expand our understanding of what and who belongs, and to care more and better for those around us — for our friends, for our children, even and especially for strangers. It’s a work of radical moral philosophy as much as a memoir of one family’s journey through the foster care system. Their story has changed me — it broke my heart wide open in the best possible way — and I don’t think I’ll ever be same.” —Lacy Johnson, Author of The Reckonings
About the Author
Sarah Sentilles is a writer, teacher, critical theorist, scholar of religion, and author of many books, including Draw Your Weapons, which won the 2018 PEN Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her next book, Stranger Care: A Memoir of Loving What Isn’t Ours, will be published by Random House in May 2021. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Oprah Magazine, Ms., Religion Dispatches, Oregon ArtsWatch, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. She’s had residencies at Hedgebrook and Yaddo. She earned a bachelor's degree at Yale and master's and doctoral degrees at Harvard. She is the co-founder of the Alliance of Idaho, which works to protect the basic human rights of immigrants by engaging in education, outreach, and advocacy at local, state, and national levels.
At the core of her scholarship, writing, and activism is a commitment to investigating the roles language, images, and practices play in oppression, violence, social transformation, and justice movements. She has taught at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland State University, California State University Channel Islands, and Willamette University, where she was the Mark and Melody Teppola Presidential Distinguished Visiting Professor. She teaches writing workshops and works one-on-one with clients to help support their art, writing, and creativity.
About the Moderator
Charlotte Wood is the author of six novels and two books of non-fiction. Her latest novel, The Weekend, won the 2020 Australian Book Industry Award for Literary Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize, the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction and the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, among other listings. Her previous novel, The Natural Way of Things, won the 2016 Stella Prize, the 2016 Indie Book of the Year and Novel of the Year, was joint winner of the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction. Her non-fiction works include The Writer’s Room, a collection of interviews with authors about the creative process, and Love & Hunger, a book about cooking. Her features and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Literary Hub, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Saturday Paper among other publications. In 2019 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant services to literature, and was named one of the Australian Financial Review's 100 Women of Influence. Charlotte was the inaugural Judy Harris Writer in Residence at the Charles Perkins Centre, a groundbreaking multidisciplinary health research centre at the University of Sydney, and has made a 7-episode podcast with two of the Centre's leading scientists, Stephen Simpson and David Raubenheimer, about their 35 years of friendship and research and the resulting book, Eat Like the Animals. Her latest project is another podcast, The Writer's Room with Charlotte Wood, in which she interviews authors, critics and other artists about the creative process. Charlotte lives in Sydney with her husband and is working on her seventh novel.
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