Eleni Hale’s Stone Girl is an incredibly powerful and honest story about the Australian foster care system. Drawing on elements of Hale’s own childhood, the novel is a confronting look into the troubling conditions faced by the children most in need of care. When twelve-year-old Sophie is moved to a foster home after the death of her mother, her life spirals as her old friends abandon her and she struggles to hold onto any form of consistency. As she becomes just another number in the system, she begins seeking attention by acting out and caving into peer pressure just to feel a part of something.
Stone Girl is written to challenge perspectives and push readers out of their comfort zone, so it is better suited to older readers. While the content is heavy, it is honest, and sends a powerful message about the truth of the matter. It sheds light on the ugly truths of the foster care system, a perspective that is not often given by someone who has experienced it first-hand. Hale’s novel provides a much-needed voice for kids in the same situation who might not have seen
themselves reflected in a strong character like Sophie.
While Stone Girl gives insight into how the unfair amount of neglect in the foster system can make bad choices seem inevitable, Sophie is not a victim. She is a nuanced narrator in that her actions are almost justifiable once the reader considers the situation she’s in and the actions of others that have led to that decision. Being betrayed and disappointed by adults over and over again understandably makes her lost faith in authority, and she can’t be entirely blamed for
making the wrong choices.
Stone Girl brings up the difficult dilemma of how to fix the foster care system when there are too many children and not enough beds, but its purpose isn’t to make the readers sympathise with the system. It’s supposed to be a voice for those whose childhood was affected in similar ways to Sophie’s, and to let them know that they’re not alone in this world. For those lucky enough to never be in that situation, it’s a powerful wake-up call that is guaranteed to change your point of