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The Home for Unwanted Girls

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  27,267 ratings  ·  2,876 reviews
Philomena meets The Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.

In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s
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Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Harper Paperbacks
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  27,267 ratings  ·  2,876 reviews


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Angela M
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up.

Joanna Goodman does not shy away from focusing on some controversial things that happened in Canada’s history in this moving novel. She presents the divide between English and French in Quebec in the 1950’s both from a family perspective as well as a societal one.

“Much like the province in which she lives, where the French and English are perpetually vying for the upper hand, her family also has two very distinct sides.”

“The Eastern Townships is mostly farm country,
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Norma * Traveling Sister and proud Grandma!!!
THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS by JOANNA GOODMAN was such a moving, heart-wrenching, and riveting historical fiction novel that had quite the emotionally gripping story. This book literally crushed me and made me feeling so many different emotions while reading it.

Some of the subject matter and historical facts that was focused on here in this novel was absolutely unconscionable and had me so angry. Being from Canada there were some events that I was aware of but some that I wasn’t and it was
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Lindsay - Traveling Sister
5 stars! I truly loved this novel!

This story ripped my heart out. It made me angry, hopeful, frustrated. It had me rooting for these characters, holding my breath and crossing my fingers for a positive outcome. It exhausted me emotionally (in the best way possible). Simply stated – I adored this book!

This novel revolves around Maggie Hughes who, at fifteen, becomes pregnant and is forced by her parents to give her baby daughter, Elodie, up. We follow Maggie through years of separation from and
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Brenda -Traveling Sister host of The Traveling Friends
Traveling Friends Group Read

When I saw that beautiful, intriguing and haunting cover I knew I had to read this one. Just looking at the cover brought on some emotion. Not really knowing what the story was about it did take me a while to finally read it, but I have to say that it worked out well because when I did read this one the timing was perfect. We read this one in our Traveling Friends Goodreads Reading group. This one made for a really great and interesting discussion amongst us. So much
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Diane S ☔
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
3.5 An emotional roller coaster of a journey, a young fifteen year old mother, Maggie forced to give up her newborn daughter. We follow Maggies journey, her life, and eventually her struggle to find and reunite with her daughter. Elodie, in an orphanage, finds harshness, but never outright cruelty, and even kindness from one of the sisters. This will change, when the orphanages are turned into mental institutions, and the unwanted children are now deemed mentally ill. Now her life is one of ...more
Jonetta
Maggie Hughes is the 15-year old daughter of an English speaking Canadian father and a French mother living in Quebec. Despite her father’s admonishments to not cavort with French boys, Maggie’s young heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix, the young and impoverished boy living at the adjacent farm. When she ends up pregnant, her parents force her to give up her baby but before she’s taken away, Maggie implores them to name her Elodie. That fortuitous moment provides the only means by which she can ...more
Antoinette
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two things drew me to this book: location and time. I grew up in Montreal and I was born 5 years after Elodie, so was a very young child when this true historical atrocity was occurring. I never knew anything about this, so was definitely interested in learning about it.
Briefly, this story is told from 2 viewpoints- Maggie and her daughter Elodie, whom she had to give up for adoption. Interesting fact of the time- This was 1950 and a woman was not allowed to keep an illegitimate child. This of
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MissBecka
Re-read for book club 2019:
I went with the audio version this time. I didn't get as emotionally invested with the narrated version as I did with the hardback. Great book all the same!

Original review 2018:
Drama drama drama drama drama drama drama drama DRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMA!
This book was filled with it.
I can't even begin to describe all the craziness that is in these pages.
It was all unraveled at such a great pace with such lovely writing.
My only real regret for this book was how rushed the ending
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Wendy
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-books, oct-18
Set in rural Quebec in the 1950's The Home For Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman, is an incredibly well-written novel that is not a true story but is based on real life events.
The author depicts a shameful part of Canadian history when the children of unmarried women were thought to bear sin, were sent to orphanages and then to asylum's because the nuns running these institutions were paid more to care for the mentally ill.
Maggie Hughes is a teenage girl with an English father and a French
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Lynn
This is an emotional book about the orphanages in Canada during the 1950s and 60’s, when they were turned into asylums and all the orphans were suddenly considered crazy or mentally defective. This was a purely economic decision, since the Catholic orphanages were not profitable, but the asylums were. A government leader, Duplessis enacted this law and pocketed some of the profits. The children were horribly mistreated and abused while in the care of the nuns, many of whom believed that the ...more
Adrea Pierce
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
K.A. Tucker
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is unique and the fact that it is based on true events of 1940s and 1950s Quebec makes it especially disturbing. While it’s not an easy read, it’s definitely worth picking up.
Anna
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maggie Harper lives in a rural community in Quebec during the 1950s. Her father is English and her mother is French. Their marriage is complicated and not particularly happy. Her father runs a Seed Store, and Maggie dreams of one day running it herself. But when she falls in love with the poor French farm boy next door, her parents do not approve. When Maggie becomes pregnant at fifteen, she is forced to give the baby up for adoption. Her daughter, Elodie, is sent to an orphanage and was well ...more
Lesley
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am sorry but this wasn't a great book. Way to melodramatic. The love story (lust story) of Maggie and Gabriel was terrible and never fully developed. It read like a cheesy romance novel. I would have liked more story about their child and less about them. I gave up half way through. Too many other books on my list that I would rather be reading to waste my time on this one.
Erin
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, kobo
Background: The Home for Unwanted Girls sheds light on the Duplessis orphans( named so after Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis( 1936-1939 & 1944-1959), 20,000 children who were victimized by the Quebec government and the Catholic Church when they were falsley certified as mentally ill and confined to mental insitutions. By the 1990's, records revealed many had been subjected to electroshock, a variety of drug testing and used in other medical experiements as well as suffering sexual and ...more
Chris
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m emotionally torn with this story:

Young love between Gabriel and Maggie with the harsh disapproval by Maggie’s father of Gabriel. Maggie and her father have a very special family bond, which will soon be horribly broken.

There is an underlying current of dissension between the English and the French Canadians (Quebec, Canada) and that those two tolerate each other but should not mingle. Ironically, Maggie’s English father married her French mother and it is, what we find out later, a marriage
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DeB MaRtEnS
Trends... I don’t know if it is me, but I’m feeling as though publishers are offering a lot of COMPELLING, HIDDEN IN THE PAST, SHOCKING, TRUE STORY of.... these days...

Are we so hooked on reality TV or the old Apprentice host that we need all of those headlines?

Or are these kinds of stories grabbing publishers’ attentions simply because they know we will be shocked to know how power has been so meanly abused barely a century ago, almost where we could be living ourselves - over us, a friend or
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Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
This book is going to get people talking. Is it a riveting story about a horrible time in Canadian history? Yes. Does it deal with sensitive and emotional subject matter? Yes. Will it give readers a lot to talk about in their book clubs. Undoubtedly.

The story is told in alternating points of view of Maggie and Elodie, as they each struggle within the confines that society has placed on them in the hope that they'll be reunited with each other one day. But Goodman also incorporates other issues
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Bookworm
This was a fantastic book! One of those stories that grabs a hold of you from the start and doesn't let go. The writing, the plot, the character development, everything is superb!

The story focuses on Quebec orphanages that were converted into mental hospitals in the 1950's as a way for the government and church to make more money. At that time, orphanages, which were run by the church, were paid a small amount of money. Out of greed, the provincial government opted to change the orphanages into
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William Koon
I have now officially read a girly -romance novel. Silly me! I thought this was a serious work about orphans in Quebec in the 1950’s. Because the Church ran the orphanages, they changed the orphanages into asylums because they were paid a per diem of 100% more. The orphans were declared insane and treated as such for many years.

Maggie at sixteen has an illegitimate child. Her parents force her to give up the child at its birth. The book see-saws back and forth between mother and child.

The book
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Suzanne
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5*

Was not a bad story at all but I honestly did not warm up to any of the characters except Elodie. Most of the other characters were not very likable. The writing was great but the characters I could not warm up to. I had pretty good expectations for this book because my grandmother said she loved it. But unfortunately the characters let me down for the most part.

My quick and simple overall: good story and worth a read.
Eden Church | The Required Reading List
Joanna Goodman has written a beautiful novel containing the entire range of emotions experienced by the human heart.

The Home for Unwanted Girls tells the story of Quebec in the 1950s-1970s, but more specifically of Maggie, a young girl living in the Townships with an English-speaking father and French-speaking mother. At fifteen Maggie falls in love with the poor French boy from the next fair over. Under questionable circumstances, Maggie is forced to give up the child she becomes pregnant
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Maureen Timerman
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This story takes place in rural Canada, near Montreal, and during a different period, the 1950’s. We are shown a family where there isn’t really a lot of love shown, the parents don’t seem to like one another, he is English and she is French, and like the Province they are like oil and water.
A young couple get caught up and the result is an unwanted pregnancy, and at that time it was an embarrassment, and the child was put up for adoption, or so they thought.
The author shows us a blight on
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Libby
3.5 stars ‘The Home for Unwanted Girls’ by Joanna Goodman is based upon a tragic occurrence in Canada’s history. Duplessis orphans were sent to mental institutions as their reclassification would provide higher subsidies. They were called Duplessis orphans because this occurred when Maurice Duplessis was premier of Quebec. A Catholic, “he put the schools, orphanages, and hospitals in the hands of religious orders, noting he "trusted them completely" (1). Doctors interviewed orphans and falsely ...more
DeAnn
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This heartbreaking tale earns 5 stars from me. And I love that cover!

This is a relationship- and character-driven novel that I really enjoyed. Set in Quebec, It was interesting to learn more about the animosity between the French and English speaking communities here. The book centers on Maggie, a teenager who enjoys working in her father's seed/gardening store and aspires to run the store someday. Maggie's father has made the choice for his children to speak English and tells his children to
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Jennifer Blankfein
The Home for Unwanted Girls is the compelling story of Maggie (based on the author’s mother) and her family set in 1950s Canada. At that time orphanages were being converted to hospitals for financial benefit. The Quebec government saved money changing the educational facilities to mental institutions, and the Roman Catholic Church received subsidies. Thousands of parentless children were falsely deemed mentally ill and many of the teaching nuns changed from black uniforms to white and called ...more
Stephanie Anze
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up

Maggie is girl living in a rural area in Quebec. Maggie's father is English and her mother is French but still her father forbids her from seeing the French boy on the next farm, deeming him less than suitable for her. Maggie, however, does not head her father's warning and soon winds up pregnant. To protect her reputation, and that of her family, Maggie is forced to give her daughter up for adoption. Unfortunately, the laws change and classify orphans as psychiatric patients
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Kristen Beverly
The first part of this book is pretty tough to read- because of the content. An important story to be told, for sure. It’s just a tough one to finish and say “I loved it!”, again because of the content. Would be great for bookclubs though, as there is plenty to discuss.
Connie G
Quebec is divided into the French and the English by language, religion, and wealth. Fifteen-year-old Maggie Hughes chooses to be English like her father, although she has a French mother, and hopes to take over her father's seed business someday. But she falls for a poor French Canadian, Gabriel, and soon finds she is pregnant. It is 1950 so her family sends her away, and forces her to give up her baby girl, Elodie, who is raised by nuns in an orphanage.

During the administration of Premier
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joyce g
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Choices made, good or bad. This story flew by.
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Joanna Goodman’s #1 Bestselling Historical Fiction novel, The Home for Unwanted Girls was released April 17, 2018 to wide critical acclaim.

Joanna is the author of four previous novels, including The Finishing School, You Made Me Love You and Harmony. Her stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Ottawa Citizen, B & A Fiction, Event, The New Quarterly, and White Wall Review.

Originally from
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