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March 8, 2024

The Girls We Sent Away by Meagan Church ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

I was in high school way back in the 60s and I remember a girl in one of my classes being shunned by everyone because there was a rumor that she was pregnant.  When she disappeared for part of the school year, we knew that it was more than a rumor.  As usual during this time, the girl was sent away in disgrace while the boy continued school and sports.

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book cover of historical fiction novel The Girls We Sent Away by Meagan Church
March 2024; Sourcebooks Landmark; 978-1728283098
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); historical fiction

Lorraine Delford has it all.  She has the perfect boyfriend and is expected to be the valedictorian of her class.  Sure her parents are pretty strict with her but that's how things were in the 1960s in North Carolina.  They were more concerned with what people thought about her and their family than they were about her life. She dreams of going to college and being an astronaut and all of her dreams seem to be within her reach...until she gets pregnant.  She had sex with her boyfriend one time before he left for college and when she tells him that she's pregnant, he refuses to marry her because he knows that it will end all of his dreams.  With no other choices, she tells her parents who are not only disappointed in their perfect daughter but basically turn their backs on her.  They make plans to send her to a home for unwed mothers so that she can have the baby, put it up for adoption, and then return to the life that they have planned for her.  As soon as she arrives at the home, she signs paperwork that she'll give up her parental rights to the baby.  After all, can she really go back to her life plans if she has a baby?  She makes several good friends while she is at the home and learns all about the way 'wayward' girls are treated by society.  As she begins to think about the possibilities of keeping her baby, she has to make a decision on whether she can have her own life or if she will be constrained by the rules of society.

This was a well-researched and well-written book.  The author did a very good job of showing the perfect, rule-following Lorraine and her attitudes about her life once she gets pregnant.  She knows that her parents will never really forgive her and she begins to wonder if her plans for her life will work for her as she changes during her time at the home.  Her parents believe that she can put it all behind her and continue with her life as if nothing happened - but is that really a realistic expectation?  Lorraine was a likable and strong woman despite the attitudes toward women in the early 60s.  It made me so sad to be reminded of how women were treated during this time period and earlier.  And of course, the male gets no condemnation and is able to follow his dreams.

This is an excellent look at life in the early 60s and the way that women were treated during this time and condemned by society if they broke any of the rules that people believed in.  An excellent book.

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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