Sunday, June 30, 2019

Review: Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler

An emotionally raw and resonant story of love, loss, and the enduring power of friendship, following the lives of two young women connected by a home for “fallen girls,” and inspired by historical events.

 In turn-of-the-20th century Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is an unprecedented beacon of hope for young women consigned to the dangerous poverty of the streets by birth, circumstance, or personal tragedy. Built in 1903 on the dusty outskirts of Arlington, a remote dot between Dallas and Fort Worth’s red-light districts, the progressive home bucks public opinion by offering faith, training, and rehabilitation to prostitutes, addicts, unwed mothers, and “ruined” girls without forcibly separating mothers from children. When Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride meet there—one sick and abused, but desperately clinging to her young daughter, the other jilted by the beau who fathered her ailing son—they form a friendship that will see them through unbearable loss, heartbreak, difficult choices, and ultimately, diverging paths.

A century later, Cate Sutton, a reclusive university librarian, uncovers the hidden histories of the two troubled women as she stumbles upon the cemetery on the home’s former grounds and begins to comb through its archives in her library. Pulled by an indescribable connection, what Cate discovers about their stories leads her to confront her own heartbreaking past, and to reclaim the life she thought she'd let go forever. With great pathos and powerful emotional resonance, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls explores the dark roads that lead us to ruin, and the paths we take to return to ourselves.

 Kindle Edition, 368 pages
 Expected publication: July 30th, 2019
 by Crown
***

I was drawn to this book by its cover and a synopsis that sounded intriguing.  Stories around real historical events are a favorite of mine and this one appears to have a unique twist.  Rather than having unwed mothers separated from their newborn they were offered a place to recover, build a new life that included their infant. Usually, babies were separated, adopted out and moms told to forget about them. This home changed that and I was curious to read about it.

Told in dual time periods, it's 1904 when Lizzie and Mattie are introduced and tell of how they ended up at Berachah Home.  Their friendship takes off as they get closer and go through a lot together.

Current day we have Cate and I was really interested in her story.  Her fascination with the Berachah Home and her mysterious past kept me reading.

The first half of the story had me intrigued but after that, it kinda flattened out, not for lack of plot but maybe because the characters just didn't talk to me anymore or a plot while still interesting but not enough to keep me glued to the pages.  It doesn't usually take me 2 weeks to finish a book but I didn't have that burning desire to know the outcome.

I did love the author's descriptions, the amount of research is evident as she vividly portrayed the times at the turn of the century, the poverty, struggles, and hardships that women went through. I know I am going against the flow here, it started out as 4 star read but even though I am giving it 3 stars still means I liked it.  I have heard good this about Julie Kibler's previous book Calling Me Home and will read it at some point.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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