Home for Unwanted Girls
by Goodman, Joanna

Forced to give up her baby in 1950s Quebec when she becomes pregnant with her childhood sweetheart, Maggie makes the wrenching decision to abandon a more secure life to search for her daughter, Elodie, who, after enduring torturous conditions in orphanages and psychiatric hospitals, struggles to survive in an unnerving alien world. 20,000 first printing.

Told against the tumultuous political backdrop of 1950s Quebec is the story of Maggie, the daughter of a proper English family, who becomes pregnant with the child of her first love, French neighbor Gabriel. Forced to leave Gabriel and the lower-class lifestyle he can offer her, Maggie is sent away to have the baby, who is given up for adoption so that Maggie can return to the respectable life that her parents envision. While Maggie makes an ill-fated attempt to live up to her parents' wishes, her daughter, bright and inquisitive Elodie, grows up in a nearby orphanage until the law changes and all orphans are declared mental patients. Elodie endures life under the nuns' cruel regime until her release into a foreign world at 17 years old. Only after Maggie and Elodie escape from the confines of their respective institutions can the family be reunited. While emotional at times, Goodman's latest (after The Finishing School, 2017) is a study of how love persists through the most trying of circumstances. Deep and meaningful, this novel captures readers' attention until they're rewarded with a happy ending. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Family members force a teenager to give up her daughter for adoption in 1950s Quebec.At a time when Quebec is not only divided, but violently polarized by the tension between French and English cultures, Maggie cannot understand what keeps her polished English father, owner of a prosperous seed store, married to her working-class, rough-spun French mother. When she falls passionately in love with Gabriel, a poor French farm boy, at 15 and ends up pregnant, her parents forbid her to keep the baby. Maggie goes on to marry a wealthy man, but she never forgets her daughter, Elodie, and finally begins to make inquiries to find her. The narrative becomes split between Elodie's life and Maggie's life. Raised by nuns at a local orphanage, Elodie is an energetic child, but when the little girl is 7, the Canadian government carries out a ruthless plan to rebrand all Catholic orphanages as homes for the mentally ill. Practically overnight, thousands of orphans are designated mentally un fit, lost in a system of abuse and neglect. Maggie's attempts to locate her daughter are stonewalled and met with lies; it's not until more than 20 years later that she learns the truth with Gabriel's help. This is a strongly political novel about the little-known injustices that mark a particular time and place, but it's also a very personal story. Goodman's (The Finishing School, 2017, etc.) biographical blurb acknowledges that it's based on the story of her own mother. Perhaps because of this, the characters who could have easily come across as types or clichés take on a great emotional depth. The novel centers around the definition, the challenges, the triumph of family, but it also acknowledges that Elodie and Maggie's story is one of many. The ending hits a perfect emotional note: bittersweet and honest, comforting and regretful. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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