The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Apr 28, 2021

I could not put this book down. I was not aware of the Duplessis orphans and was often moved to tears many times as I read this story. A vile and shocking story of abuse by the Duplessis government in Quebec and the Catholic Church. Kudos to Joanna Goodman for keeping this story in the forefront. I’m looking forward to reading the follow up book The Forgotten Daughter.

Apr 15, 2021

Excellent read, would recommend.

WPL_Erin Mar 12, 2021

Really liked this one! Loved the different perspectives and the back and forth.

Jan 26, 2021

what should've been a searing condemnation of the abuse of orphaned children during the Duplessis era, by mandate, becomes a sappy love story complete with a fairy tale ending - yech

Jan 04, 2021

A real page turner. From the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I absolutely loved this book from start to finish.

Oct 20, 2020

An incredible story revealing a shameful period of history in Quebec under Duplessis in the 50's. Beautifully written , captivating ,emotional, with two endearing main protagonists :historical fiction at its best. I highly recommend it.

Jul 27, 2020

I loved this book from the very first page until the end. I did not know about the orphanages in Quebec in the 1950’s and the transition to mental hospitals. It was certainly an eye opener. I would definitely recommend this book.

ArapahoeKristy Jul 20, 2020

After a slow start I thoroughly enjoyed this novel based on true events taking place in Canada in the 1950s. At the age of 16, Maggie is forced to give up her baby. Years pass and orphanages are turned into mental institutions so that they qualify for more government funding. Meanwhile, Maggie has begun to search for the baby she wasn't allowed to raise and faces one obstacle after another when she is denied information about her child time and time again.

Dec 24, 2019

Orphanages of 50'-70's exposed in Canada. Heart wrenching details of the conditions. All too normal that young women are not educated about their bodies or taught how to traverse the hormonal upswing of puberty. Of course the mid 1900's this education was probably nonexistent almost everywhere not mention methods of preventing pregnancy. Goodman weaves a tale of a family, community of multicultural people and how their lives evolve w/ emphasis on Mother and daughter bonds. and following one's heart.

Nov 29, 2019

Captivating from page one straight through to the end. Highly recommend this book.

Nov 27, 2019

I first heard about the orphanages that changed into mental hospitals and the brutal conditions while attending university a few years ago. This book captured and brought to life the history very well. It brought a life to it that we are omitted from reading about something from "ago." As the heart breaking story unfolds you can't help but feel like you are seeing it through the eyes of the characters. I highly recommend. This is a wonderful example of how historical fiction brings moments of history to life.

Aimee M Trudel
Sep 17, 2019

Jan loved this - Quebec story

Aug 13, 2019

The fact that this book is based on true events makes it especially disturbing. This book was an emotional roller coaster and I could not put it down.

Jul 25, 2019

I couldn't put it down. This story moved me and educated me on a very dark chapter in Canadian history. It's a must read.

wendybird May 17, 2019

A well written, wonderful novel, incorporating some neglected & sad history from Quebec. The final chapters could have been a bit more tightly edited, but a small quibble. Look for appearances of the author, come September 2019, as the book is Waterloo Region's One Book One Community choice this year ("OBOC").

Apr 09, 2019

A truly marvellous and beautifully written book. I read it in three days and had tears in my eyes at more than one point. What a gifted Canadian writer we have in Joanna Goodman. I discovered her by accident and now want to read everything she writes.

Jan 20, 2019

Twenty years in the making, set in Quebec, it's the story of an unwed mother Maggie and the daughter Elodie she is forced to give up to an orphanage run by nuns. Beautifully written it is essentially a love story. Overriding themes of the tension between the French and the English, the tyranny of the Duplessis government and the church enrich the story and remind the reader what life in Quebec was really like in the fifties and beyond.

Jan 19, 2019

5 Stars. Excellent historical fiction. Great read for quiet times at home, or as a summer, or beach vacation novel. I learned a lot about the terrible occurrences in the 40's, 50's in Quebec, under the Duplessis provincial government, when ..... I don't want to spoil it for you! Shows how a law, probably intended to help, turned bad, fast. Well written, reads itself!

Dec 30, 2018

This is not the usual type of book that I read but the plot intrigued me and I do not regret reading it. It was well written and the more I read about the hardships that each character went through, the more outraged I grew. The political climate of the book is a real part of Canadian history which I didn't know about so I'm glad I learned something new. I recommend this book to people who want to read a book that's raw and emotional, and features characters with depth.

Dec 27, 2018

Not a subject that I wanted to explore. I did not finish the book.

Dec 21, 2018

A heart-rending portrayal of 50's through 70's Quebec. The lives of orphans ruined in order for Duplessis, politicians and the Church to profit from the Federal government grants for asylums. Maggie endures years of sadness over the loss of her daughter, and Elodie lives a life void of affection or education. Whereas with the Reservation 'schools' the government/priests had the greater share of the blame, in this story, the nuns were accessories to these crimes.

I just finished reading The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman for my book club and it was a real page-turner. It’s a fictitious novel based on actual events that occurred in the early 1950’s in Quebec. At the time, many babies born out of wedlock were handed over to orphanages run by Catholic nuns. The province’s Premier of the time, Duplessis signed an order-in-council to turn orphanages into hospitals, thus allowing them to collect federal subsidies. As a result, many of the children in the orphanages were told that they were now mentally deficient, often kept drugged, and made to provide labour in support of the institutions. The children were not schooled, nor were they made available for adoption.

This story follows a 15 year old who finds herself pregnant as well as the story of the child she gives up to one of these orphanages turned hospitals. Mother and daughter never lose hope of reuniting while facing many challenges in their respective lives.

The novel was very well written and I believe it depicted the issues surrounding the times accurately. While it was sometimes difficult to read, it was also eye-opening and engaging. One of the few novels where I’ve shed tears while reading. I highly recommend it. (Submitted by Seline)

Nov 27, 2018

I really enjoyed this book, I finished it in just a few days! It is a great story with elements of history sprinkled within the pages, a part of Canadian history I knew nothing about and was shocked to learn. I would definitely recommend the book! it is a touching and intriguing read, with likeable characters that you'll find yourself rooting for !

Oct 19, 2018

This was a good one and enjoyed the flow of the story and the characters. Yes, the story is somewhat predictable, but you find yourself being hopeful for each of the characters anyway.

Oct 18, 2018

Great book about adoption in the 1950's in Canada.

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