Book Review: The Forgotten Home Childby Genevieve Graham

There are so many things I love about The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham. If I had a Must-Read in 2020 list, this would be the second title on it. (The first place holder hasn’t been reviewed yet because it doesn’t publish until late summer, but it is worthy of first place.) Maybe I need a Must-Read Fiction in 2020 list and this could go straight to the very top. It was that good by my recommendation.

Emotionally Moving

First thing I love about this one? The genre. Historical fiction will always hold a special place in my reader’s heart. Always. This novel is based on factual history, but the plot and characters are make-believe. It’s the type of historical fiction that made me do some very light research because I had no idea this had happened (and it left me feeling bereft and heartbroken on behalf of the children who left their homes, and even more so for those who were mistreated in what should have been a better life.)

Two, I love this title because it showcases an important piece of Canadian history, is set in Canada (and the UK), with recognizable destinations and landscapes and was written by a Canadian author. Score for familiarity.

Three, I loved the voice of this writer so much. It was so easy to read, engaging and emotional. I read some early feedback from others that felt certain aspects were sugarcoated – there are some mature, graphic situations (not graphic in actual content, graphic in theme). The author chooses to gloss over them (i.e. rape was not called rape) but I took the liberty of assuming this had more to do with keeping with the era than the author choosing to belittle such horrible events. She paints a highly illustrative struggle of the children in their new situations and also casts a fair light on the flaws in what should have been an excellent program. On the flip side, there is a balance in acknowledging that not all the children ended up in abusive positions and their lives were better for it.

This novel addresses chasms between classes, the heartbreak of stigma, the darkness of an era not far behind us. It’s presented in the retelling by a nonagenerian who has kept her history a secret until a fateful occurence sparks some questions from her family.

Overall, I found The Forgotten Home Child to be one of my all-time favourite reads. It was emotionally moving and enlightening. I am in awe of the resilience of the characters and saddened by this aspect of our history. It hits shelves on March 3rd so make a preorder or on publication day pick up a copy for yourself and let me know if you agree or disagree with my take.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this title courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Review: The Survivors by Kate Furnivall

On Sundays, we tend to go to church as a family. This morning I had a really hard time rolling out of bed. It had everything to do with staying up until the wee hours reading. Adulting is hard… weighing the consequences of your poor decisions and choosing to still be unwise. Then having to function as a contributing member of society the next day without taking out your lack of sleep on anyone else. It’s hard y’all… It’s hard.

So what kept me engaged until the wee hours, citing “Just one more chapter…”to myself? (knowing full well that I’d read until the book was done. I blame the iced latte after dinner.) The book? The Survivors by Kate Furnivall. Amazing. Hearbreaking. Intense.

It’s set in post-WWII Germany, in a Displaced Persons camp… a collection of survivors, unwanted, who have survived but now fight their greatest battle to thrive. As much as I read stories of WWII, I’ve not given much thought to the everyday survivors – those who’s homes were razed – the refugees – the ones with nothing but their wits and the clothes on their backs.

The strength of the main protagonists – a Polish mother and her young daughter is remarkable – a testament to the power of a mother’s love as the impetus to do anything to save your child – to survive. It’s not a sweet and tidy fairy-tale. It’s gritty. It’s rough. It’s painful and powerful. The author does not cushion the blows or smooth out the jaggged edges – the language, violence, and choices reflect the grittiness of the characters. This may offend some, but I found it atmospheric… real.

As a whole, The Survivors is moving. It’s fast paced, suspenseful, with danger, daring, and romance. It’s a remarkable piece of historical fiction with a unique look at the tragedies of war and the strength of survival. It’s truly a gripping piece of work. Watch for it to hit shelves at all major booksellers this Tuesday.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this title via NetGalley with thanks to the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Published by: Simon and Schuster Canada

Publication date: April 30, 2019