The Forsaken Children by Naomi Finley
𝐀 𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞, 𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬.It’s 1921. Fifteen-year-old Hazel Winters and her six-year-old brother, William, are placed on a ship by an organization that relocates British orphans and children of poverty to new homes in Canada. Arrivals in the new land are exported to distributing houses, where devastation and heartache greet the youngsters as headmistresses govern their fate.
The assurance of a better life across the ocean is far from what Hazel experiences. Through hardships and loneliness, she is determined to survive. Finding refuge in memories of the past, she clings to the dream of returning to her homeland while preserving a reunion in her heart.
In 1890, orphaned Charlotte Appleton and her sister Ellie were scooped up from London’s streets and sent to new homes across the ocean. Although mere miles kept them apart, Charlotte never knew her sister’s whereabouts until a chance interaction reunites them. Together the siblings vow to make a difference for the families and home children of an institution in Toronto, Ontario.
Can an unexpected guardian give Hazel renewed strength and resolve for a future of promise?
Based on the child emigration movement that occurred from 1869 through the late1930s, this poignant tale follows the lives of siblings who were burdensome byproducts of Britain’s poverty.
I finished The Forsaken Children by Naomi Finley in a day, it was so intriguing that I couldn’t bring myself to put it down. This is not a happy tale, in fact it just becomes more and more heartbreaking with every page. Although, throughout, there is a small glimmer of hope.
Hazel and her younger brother, William, are growing up in poverty in Liverpool in 1921. Living with their mother, they are happy and loved. When their mother loses her job, she makes the difficult decision to leave her children at an orphanage until she can find work. Within days of arriving at the orphanage, Hazel and William are placed on a ship heading to Canada.
As Hazel’s story is just getting started, Charlotte’s story is running alongside it. The jumps between characters is not too frequent, but just often enough to drive the story and provide a glimpse into what may be Hazel’s future. Both Hazel and Charlotte’s characters jump right off the page, and the change in POV is not disjointing as it is some books I’ve read.
The author does a good job of bringing the stories of the British home children to life in The Forsaken Children, and I can tell that a lot of research must have gone into it. Hazel’s story (as well as Charlotte’s) is not at all sugar coated, it shows the harsh reality of being a British home child. But along with that, The Forsaken Children is also a tale of hope, resilience, and a will to survive. The themes of hope and love in the face of all the darkness is the only real beacon of light in this otherwise sad tale.
Hidden gems books sent me a free ARC copy of The Forsaken Children. This is my honest review.
Do you like historical fiction? Which historical fiction novels would you recommend?