2018 Book #59 – The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

51Xyv20J3RLTitle: The Home for Unwanted Girls
Author: Joanna Goodman
Date finished: 7/13/18
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 17, 2018
Pages in book: 362
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from  Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

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 on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.

Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.

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.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I requested to review this book because of the description. I hadn’t heard anything about this particular historical event before but as horrifying as it is there is some truth to it. The children that lived through this horrendous event are sometimes known as the Duplessis Orphans, as Duplessis was the premier of Quebec at the time these events occurred. Maggie and Elodie’s stories are heart-breaking but more than that, there is a string of hope that can be felt and seen throughout the book that uplifts the story. Elodie suffered tremendously but she still hopes for a better future. I loved that the book was told from both Maggie’s and Elodie’s points of view, this added a lot of important details that the reader would’ve missed otherwise but also allows us to grow attached to both characters. Both their journeys were amazing and inspiring, and although the story is fictional (but based on true events) I found many of the ideas in the book to be thought-provoking. To imagine these things would have happened to real people is baffling to me, that humanity could be that cruel to children for money incomprehensible. Underneath all the tragedy I found that this was also an important story of love, specifically Maggie’s love for Gabriel and also for Elodie. I really very much enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend reading it. It was an engaging and interesting read, and I hope to have a chance to read more by this author in the future.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #56 – Lightning by Dean Koontz

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Title: Lightning
Author: Dean Koontz
Date finished: 6/12/15
Genre: Fiction – Thriller
Publisher: G Putnam Sons
Publication Date: 1988
Pages in book: 355
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

In the midst of a raging blizzard, lightning struck on the night Laura Shane was born. And a mysterious blond-haired stranger showed up just in time to save her from dying.
Years later, in the wake of another storm, Laura will be saved again. For someone is watching over her. But just as lightning illuminates, darkness always follows close behind.

My rating: 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Roof Beam Reader TBR Pile Reading Challenge, #3 on the list I set for myself at the beginning of this year. One of my friends (technically my best friend’s mom and my mom’s best friend) wanted me to read this book to try something new and to see if I would like something a little darker/scarier. She originally wanted me to read something by Stephen King (if I remember correctly) but gave me this book instead since it is one of her favorites and not quite as scary as Stephen King. Being delinquent in my duties as reviewer, I have had the book for probably close to a year and so earlier this year I thought it would be a good encouragement to put it on my TBR reading challenge listing.
So this story is about a lady named Laura and I’m going to spoil it for you, time travel. Laura has a “guardian” who pops in and out of her life at important moments, saving her from dying over and over again from the moment she’s born right up until the end of the book pretty much. Laura goes through life not knowing that she’s really living in an altered timeline since Stefan (the guardian) keeps jumping across the time stream to fix things for her. Living in ignorance, Laura grows up and forms relationships and sustains significant losses in her life, all the while surviving as best she can. Eventually though, she comes face to face with Stefan and he asks her to help him save the world.
Overall this was not my favorite book. The book itself was good enough but it is not my usual style/genre of book and I had some trouble getting into it. There was a lot of complicated discussion on time travel and I (like Laura) got a massive headache trying to keep track of the paradoxes of people traveling through time. Also the main character lived through such heavy losses through her life, it was depressing. And poor Chris going through this experience as an 8 year old. I don’t think I found it too scary necessarily, but it was darker than I usually like and I had trouble connecting with Laura. I would probably try another book by Koontz in the future to see if it was just this plot I wasn’t a huge fan of. I want to thank my friend Sandy for recommending this book to me. I am trying hard to expand my horizons and try books that are outside of my comfort zone and this book definitely fit the bill! Thanks Sandy!

The bottom line: I don’t think I would encourage or discourage readers to try this book. It was a good book just not my style.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page