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The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman (Review by Paula Hayden)
We see her as a relatively mature if sheltered, a teenager who navigates the household tensions between her French mother and English-speaking father and explores the boundaries of love with Gabriel, her poor French boyfriend. In what perhaps many parents of the time would consider an appropriate decision, Maggie is separated from Gabriel who is kept ignorant of the pregnancy. When baby Elodie is born, she is placed in an orphanage. In Quebec at that time, federal funding for hospitals was more generous than for orphanages, so the Catholic Church devised a scheme to reclassify orphanages as psychiatric institutions. Orphaned children were falsely diagnosed as being mentally unfit to justify the reclassification.
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I enjoy historical fiction because it is the only form of time travel available to me. I would never want to actually live in the past, but seeing how other people existed and endured during a different time is fascinating to me. The story centers on Maggie, a lovestruck teenager who becomes pregnant by the love of her life. Her baby daughter ends up at an orphanage and, due to changes to the orphanage system, her life goes from not great or truly horrendous. As the daughter grows older, the book switches to her story and back and forth between the two as the decades pass. However, the two lives are so different that switching between these two are almost jarring because you are switching between family drama and something of a twisted horror tale. The relationship between Maggie and her long-time love interest is refreshingly real.
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman - Quick Review
Joanna Goodman. Her father is an English-speaker who has lofty ambitions for his daughter, and most of them include avoiding everyone and everything that is even the slightest bit French. This proves tricky for Maggie, especially since her mother is French, and things get even tougher when Maggie begins to have feelings for a local French boy named Gabriel. Her father is furious with her, and does his best to keep them apart, but Maggie and Gabriel are determined to be together. Maggie is forced to give her infant daughter up for adoption, a decision that will haunt her for years to come. Although she does her best to move on with her life, she is unable to forget the daughter she was never even able to hold. Plus, her feelings for Gabriel have only gotten stronger as the years have gone by, and she yearns to find a way to be reunited with him and their child.
Smokey is strangely fascinated by French history in particular-must be the mustache. We are introduced to a young girl named Maggie, hopelessly in love with her next door neighbor Gabriel, who gets her pregnant. But, due to a political decision, some Catholic orphanages in Quebec are transitioned to mental asylums because they receive more funding per child from the government. Once this occurs, Elodie is essentially labelled as mentally insane, tasked with physically caring for adult mental patients who are forced into the same building, and sexually, physically and verbally abused on a regular basis by the staff members including the clergy. Sounding familiar to anyone? Despite the horrors that are delved into, I found myself turning the pages faster and faster. The characterization is so sincere in this book.