Salela's Reviews > The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade

The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler
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Jun 29, 2012

it was amazing

Here is the review I provided for _Choice Reviews Online_

In a delicately balanced synthesis of oral history and scholarly research, Fessler (photography, Rhode Island School of Design) reveals the hidden history of young women who were coerced against their will to relinquish their newborn children in the years preceding Roe v. Wade. The author opens the door on a little-known social-historical era by providing firsthand accounts of several women (chosen from Fessler's more than 100 personal interviews) who are still haunted by relinquishment of their children and who continue to suffer the consequences--not just of the relinquishment, but of the social requirement to keep it secret. The foundation for telling their stories is laid by providing the social history whence these stories are embedded. Ensconced in an era with the idealized vision of postwar familial "perfection," deeply rooted sexual double standards, and the need for babies for adoption, these women were caught up in a historical period that had a profound lifetime impact on them because of the society that refused to acknowledge them. Eerily evocative of the The Handmaid's Tale (1985), this story is true. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Family studies, social history, women's studies, psychology, counseling, and social work collections, all levels. -- P. M. Salela, University of Illinois at Springfield
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