While we may bemoan the state of our current foster care system, the treatment of orphans has come a long way in the last hundred years. But it still has a long way to go to fully meet the needs of orphans and children in crisis.
No Ocean too Wide
Carrie Turansky, Multnomah, June 25, 2019, 368 pages
One disaster after another besets the McAlister family. Katie McAlister and her twin brother Garth have had to help their mum earn rent money ever since their da died in a tragic accident. But at fourteen, job openings prove scarce. Katie helps her mom do her piece work for a dressmaker, and Garth delivers groceries.
Their older sister Laura went into service to help make ends meet, and their younger sister, Grace is too young to help out. But when Mum falls ill, the family finds themselves in horrible straits. Even worse, the constable who catches Garth trying to steal a loaf of bread demands that the three younger children get turned over to an orphanage.
After a disastrous first placement, Laura has found a good place at Bolton Hall, acting as lady’s maid to Mrs. Frasier. At Bolton Hall, no young men linger in the stairwells, trying to take liberties. When Mrs. Frasier’s son shows up, Laura worries that he’ll turn out like the young man at her first place of employment. She also worries because she hasn’t heard from Mum in weeks.
But Mr. Andrew Frasier, a sincere Christian, ends up helping Laura in her hour of need when she receives a letter from one of her mum’s friends. Her younger siblings have entered an orphanage, and kindly neighbors insisted that her mother enter the hospital. Mrs. Frasier allows Laura to leave immediately for London to try to untangle the mess. Andrew Frasier promises further aid, should Laura need it.
Laura discovers that once her siblings get turned over to the orphan system, she has no power to reunite her family. She’ll try anything—even taking a job under a false name—to find her brother and sisters.
Orphans in the 1900s
The orphan system in the early 1900s in London looks nothing like what we have in place today. Turansky meticulously researches this little-known segment of history, where orphanages gain total control over children and send them away to Canada for lives unknown.
Readers who love books by Jody Hedlund, Sarah Ladd, and Jennifer Delamere will enjoy this first book in the McAlister Family series.Don't miss this heart-warming (and thought-provoking) new release from @carrieturansky! #amreading #orphans #bookreview Click To Tweet
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
This story sounds a lot like my great great grandmother and her family after mother passed away and father had a nervous breakdown.
Oh, wow! That must have been so difficult!
My maternal uncle helped me locate information about my paternal grandmother’s family. She was placed in a children’s home in Louisville, Ky in 1911. The information my aunt and uncle gained for me was so very interesting. Apparently, quite often, children were placed in orphanages for short-term periods of time for financial reasons or maybe postpartum depression left mothers ill-equipped to take care of their children, too many children. After a few years, when the mother felt able to finally take care of her brood, they were be taken back home – and, after a year or two, my grandmother was reunited with her birth family.
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That’s so fascinating! It intrigues me how each generation solves the problems of mental health. Back then, it sounds as if the solution may have created further trauma for the next generation (I’ve never read anything good about orphanages–with the exception of George Mueller’s in England).