Review: Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 3 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

 

What It’s About:

2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.
For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.

At the paper, Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in all that happened. She is far too familiar with the heartbreak of children deemed unwanted. As the bonds of motherhood are tested, she and Ellis must decide how much they are willing to risk to mend a fractured family.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.

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Guest Reviewer Tom’s Thoughts:

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris is an engaging story about life during the Great Depression with an interesting premise: a mother is forced to sell the children to improve the whole family’s chances for economic survival, thus destroying the family in the process.  Geraldine, the widowed mother, later finds her health circumstance was not so dire, and regrets what she has done.  With the aid of the two main characters Ellis and Lily (a reporter and newspaper secretary involved in the original reporting of such dire circumstance) readers are taken on a wild ride in their efforts to reunite Geraldine with daughter Ruby and son Clayton. The reunion possibility and associated search is full of action, twists, and turns that kept my engagement throughout.  This, in and of itself, is enough to make Sold on a Monday a worthwhile read.

Nonetheless, I felt the book did not live up to the potential of its premise.  Two key shortcomings for me were in the areas of historical reference and character development. For historical fiction, I was disappointed with the lack of historical context.  The story would have benefitted from more exploration of examples of hardship and desperation that occurred during the period.  Instead, we only get minimal reference to prohibition, the Mob, and the Lindbergh kidnapping. Coverage of the time period and backdrop is almost non-existent and disappointing.  I would have enjoyed descriptions of and references to the Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey during that era to build out the settings in the story.

On character development, author McMorris does an excellent job detailing the difficult relationship with between Ellis and his father.  Her writing shines here.  On the other hand, the eventual romantic relationship between Ellis and Lily is poorly developed…enough to appear haphazard and coincidental.  Their emotional connection is left to the imagination save for their shared desire to make the Geraldine’s family whole again.

In sum, the premise and the pace make this book a worthwhile read, but one that did not live up to its potential.  For me, better historical context and more depth to the Lily/Ellis romantic relationship would have taken it over the top.

 

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