Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: August 6, 2019
The latest novel by T. Greenwood, author of “Rust & Stardust,” is about a heartbroken mother who gave up her baby girl born with Down Syndrome. That sounds too harsh. Let me clarify. The year is 1969, when women gave birth while under anesthesia. While still under the influence of the ether, and pressure from her doctor, husband, and father-in-law, the baby, who she named Lucy, is taken from her. Her husband tells her she is going to a boarding school for the developmentally disabled and that visitations are not recommended since it would confuse the child. She believes this is what is best for her daughter. Two years later she learns through the newspapers that the school is actually an institution currently under investigation for all sorts of abuse (the author does a good job with visuals of the abused children). Still, there are lots of pulling on the heartstrings type of drama that simply didn’t feel real.
It didn’t feel believable, at least to me, because the mother does a complete one-eighty. She and her friend go on a “Thelma and Louise” sort of adventure to kidnap Lucy. They go on the run with a broken down car and nowhere to go. This is done to save Lucy from going back to the fictional Willowridge School. I am sure that the author chose that name on purpose for its similarities to the infamous Willowbrook State School. Do you remember that downright evil school located in Staten Island, NY? I do because as a teen I went to demonstrate against the place. “The horrors endured at the Willowbrook State School will never be forgotten. Built for developmentally disabled children and adults in the 1930s, the school became an institution where the borough’s most vulnerable residents were abused, starved and neglected…”— January 17, 2017, https://www.silive.com/news/2017/01/the_horrors_of_willowbrook_sta.html
Once the mother character learns the true nature of the school, her maternal instincts kicks in. I want to know where those feelings have been for the past two years of Lucy’s life. I believe that the story is about a depressed woman, totally under her husband’s thumb, who finally learns to think and do for herself. But the writing is not up to par with the author’s last novel, which was a historical fiction. There are so many clichés in this book, complete with an ending tied up in a bow, that I often rolled my eyes. Maybe my own experience with such an institution is the reason why I found the story unbelievable. Parents who left their children in such a horrible place were not the type to look back. I am sure others may enjoy this novel, but it wasn’t for me.
I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
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