Book Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls
“In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility–much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents send the baby Elodie to an orphanage where she receives horrible treatment. Seventeen years later, Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.”
Throughout history in every country if you dig deep enough you will uncover some horrible atrocities. The Home for Unwanted Girls tells the story of what happened to the daughters of unwed mothers in Quebec. Some were sold to Jewish families who were unable to adopt in the US. Many more were given to orphanages run by nuns where they lived humble lives that revolved around school and church. Until a law was passed that offered more reimbursement for mentally ill patients than the orphanages were paid to take care of children. So almost over night the children were evaluated by physicians and diagnosed mentally ill.
This story is told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Maggie, who spends her life searching for her daughter who was taken from her at birth and sent to an orphanage, and her daughter Elodie, who thinks that her mother is dead.
As Elodie and Maggie’s stories unfold we’re treated to a history listen on the the abuse and atrocitites of the orphaned children which continues for many years until a new law is passed denouncing the previous law. After the new law frees the older girls back into a society that they are not prepared to live in many of the younger girls remain in the orphanages. Confined back to a life of education, church, cleaning, and being reminded that they are there because of the sins of their mothers.
This is a vibrant story about family, a mother’s love, and a young girls unending fight for her life. I love fictional stories that educate me on true historical events and rated this book 5 Stars.