The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick
Publication date: January 7, 2020
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars ✰✰✰✰
Strengths: Storyline, historical details, characters
Weaknesses: It made me sad?
Wow. Big ole wow. I loved reading this book, and once I got to the afterword and saw more of the background story, its impact just multiplied.
The whole book starts with a family. Not a poor family, but a family with a successful dad, supportive mom, two lovely daughters, a cook, the mom's ladies maid... a normal early 1900s family (I suppose). But that wouldn't be very interesting for the whole book, would it?
Without spoiling anything, the normal family thing doesn't stick well enough, and we learn instead about the dark underbelly of girls with 'sinful natures.' The story really gets going when we hang out with two girls trapped in a Catholic charity house where they are kept and used as unpaid laundry slaves. While the Sisters who run the House of Mercy supposedly work to reform the wayward girls in their care, they also utilize the girls' free labor to scrub and press the laundry the House takes in. Oh, and there's no getting out.
As I said, the attributions in the afterword were what really got me and gave the book even more power. I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this book, but the story was compelling and flowed beautifully. I don't think I've read a lot of stories from similar times/settings, so it was all fresh to me, and I was unaware of the stories of places like the House of Mercy.
Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I'm tempted to read it again to notice more details when I have the time. I'd recommend this book to any lovers of strong historical fiction and engaging characters.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book to read. The opinions expressed in this review are not influenced by having received the book for free.