Monday, 27 January 2020

The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham

"I have seen enough days to know we have no say over any of them."
The Forgotten Home Child, Genevieve Graham

Books like The Forgotten Home Child remind me of exactly why I love historical fiction. Well-written historical fiction novels sweep me away with a powerful story and teach me about a time or place or perspective in history that I may not have otherwise known. The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham does exactly this.

This is the story of the British Home Children, a child relocation program where approximately 100 000 children were shipped from the United Kingdom to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. These were poor or orphaned children who were sent away in an effort to clean up the impoverished streets in the UK.

The Forgotten Home Child focuses on three friends sent to Canada in the 1930s. Jack, Mary, and Winny were purchased by families looking for cheap labour. While their agreements were to treat the children well, and be sure they were given time to go to school, many Home Children suffered heartbreaking abuse while they worked as indentured servants.

Recently, Canada has been going through a period of facing the hard facts of its history. Importantly, the truths of Indigenous residential schools are being exposed. Exploring the history of these Home Children is another uncomfortable truth in Canada's history that could use more light. The Forgotten Home Child is that light.

It marries fiction and reality in a bittersweet story of friendship, family, and resilience. Told in dual timelines, 97-year-old Winny knows she doesn't have many days left ahead of her, and when her great-grandson asks about their family tree, she decides it is time she told her family the truth of their history.

The Forgotten Home Chid is a powerful story that will stay with you long after you finish reading. Look for it on March 3, 2020, and it's available for pre-order from your favourite bookseller. This was my first Genevieve Graham novel, but it won't be my last. I love Acadian history, so I think I will be picking up Promises to Keep next.


Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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