Review: The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham


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☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:


An unforgettable novel about a young girl caught in a scheme to rid England’s streets of destitute children, and the lengths she will go to find her way home—based on the true story of the British Home Children.


At ninety-seven years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left, and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. But when her great-grandson Jamie, the spitting image of her dear late husband, asks about his family tree, Winnifred can’t lie any longer, even if it means breaking a promise she made so long ago…


Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack, and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them.

But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again.

Inspired by true events, The Forgotten Home Child is a moving and heartbreaking novel about place, belonging, and family—the one we make for ourselves and its enduring power to draw us home.

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My Thoughts:


The Forgotten Home Child is a haunting story based on the little-known program called British Home Children.  In this program, orphaned, homeless, and destitute children were shipped to Canada, New Zealand and Australia under the premise that they would have better opportunities in the colonies.

The novel toggles between present day and history (beginning in 1936).  It is told in dual narration from from the perspective of two of the main characters: Jack and Winnifred (Winny).

Following a rag-tag group of street urchins, author Genevieve Graham relays the composite life of many of the over 100,000 Home Children who were shipped to faraway colonies.  They were promised a better life, and a few found it, but most were purchased as indentured servants to help out at farms that were struggling through the Great Depression and both world wars.  Many of the children were mistreated at best and severely abused at worst.

Their plight is quite sad, and The Forgotten Home Child is sometimes hard to read.  There were insufficient personnel (and probably interest) to check on the children once they had arrived and were taken to scattered farms. Their experiences colored their entire life.

Ms. Graham’s interest in her country’s history shows in her well researched story.  The plot flows nicely and balances character development and growth.    The bleakness of the characters situation made the story drag at times because it was emotionally exhausting to read, however, this story about the abuse and hardships of the British Home Children is compelling and important.


© Copyright 2020 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.


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