Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the chance to read this incredible book in exchange for an honest review.
Historical fiction is my go-to genre in books. Nothing makes me happier than getting lost in the past through the pages of a compelling story. It’s doubly good when the topic of the novel is something I don’t know much about. I want to learn from the books I read.
And, boy, did I learn from The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham. The story she weaves through Winny and Jack is compelling and so easy to get lost in.
I knew that the United Kingdom sent children to Canada during World War II to protect them from the Blitz. I did not know that the United Kingdom had been sending children, who they more or less hoped were orphans, to Canada as indentured servants from 1869 to 1948. It seems… unreal to think that the most powerful nation in the world for much of that time, a nation that outlawed slavery in 1820, sold children into service an ocean away from everything they knew. They were to serve until they were eighteen or twenty-one. England seems to have more or less hoped that those in Canada, mostly farmers, who ‘bought’ workers between the ages of 4 and 18 would care for them, provide them with shelter and food, and even send them to school.
This was not, of course, always the case.
And Genevieve Graham focuses her narrative here, on those who suffered. She explains in her author’s note that she pulled the lives she created for Winny and Jack from stories shared with her by people who were ‘Home Children’ and the families they later had. Not every author can do that as well as Graham does.
And she does it in a way that broke my heart and still made me hope.
There really isn’t much more that you could ask for in a novel, not in my humble opinion.
I could, and maybe should, say more about Winny and Jack but I want people to read this book and to tell you more might influence whether you read it or not. I will say this… this book includes romance but friendship is the current that every aspect of the story rests on. And that seems most how a life should be balanced, even in it’s darkest hour.
Fair warning if you have trouble reading of child abuse, death, and war. It’s there, but it was also a very real part of the lives of those who were ‘Home Children.’