An emotionally raw and resonant story of love, loss, and the enduring power of friendship, following the lives of two young women connected by a home for “fallen girls,” and inspired by historical events.
In turn-of-the-20th century Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is an unprecedented beacon of hope for young women consigned to the dangerous poverty of the streets by birth, circumstance, or personal tragedy. Built in 1903 on the dusty outskirts of Arlington, a remote dot between Dallas and Fort Worth’s red-light districts, the progressive home bucks public opinion by offering faith, training, and rehabilitation to prostitutes, addicts, unwed mothers, and “ruined” girls without forcibly separating mothers from children. When Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride meet there—one sick and abused, but desperately clinging to her young daughter, the other jilted by the beau who fathered her ailing son—they form a friendship that will see them through unbearable loss, heartbreak, difficult choices, and ultimately, diverging paths.
A century later, Cate Sutton, a reclusive university librarian, uncovers the hidden histories of the two troubled women as she stumbles upon the cemetery on the home’s former grounds and begins to comb through its archives in her library. Pulled by an indescribable connection, what Cate discovers about their stories leads her to confront her own heartbreaking past, and to reclaim the life she thought she'd let go forever. With great pathos and powerful emotional resonance, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls explores the dark roads that lead us to ruin, and the paths we take to return to ourselves.
Julie Kibler is the bestselling author of Home for Erring and Outcast Girls and Calling Me Home, which was an IndieNext List pick, Target Club Pick, and Ladies' Home Journal Book Club Pick, published in fifteen languages. She has a bachelor's degree in English and journalism and a master's degree in library science and lives with her family, including four rescued dogs and cats, in Texas.
I was fascinated by the premise of this novel and its inspiration of historical events surrounding the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls. I think it is an important story and really wanted to be pulled into the tale of the refuge.
However, the pacing and the timeline of the 2017 story vs. the early 1900's story felt disconnected. The timeline going back and forth wasn't working for me. I was much more interested in the story about the home and the girls who lived there. Again, the pacing seemed off and s-l-o-w going.
I wanted to feel more emotions, more connections and just more curious about the women featured than I did. I actually found the author's notes at the end the more interesting than the novel.
Others have enjoyed this read so check out the higher reviews. I may just be the outlier here.
Thanks to Crown for the advanced copy. Out on July 23, 2019
The Berachah Industrial Home for Erring Girls in Arlington, Texas that is depicted in this novel was a real place. A cemetery is what remains of this institution founded by a minister and his wife . They were dedicated not just to helping girls and women who “erred” but also their babies, a different approach from other homes for unwed mothers at this time . A quick internet search will lead you to a number of articles and photos of the place which provided a safe haven for so many. The story is comprised of three narratives, two from the early 1900’s, one 2017.
Lizzie Bates and her baby girl, Docie, are living a horrible life after unspeakable treatment and a drug addiction brought on by an evil man. She is hanging on to her life by a thread but hanging on to her daughter for dear life when she is rescued by Christian women and brought to a home. Maddie Corder is living her own hell is trying desperately to save her sick baby boy Cap. She makes her way to the home and the two connect and we see the beauty of friendship and caring as their fate over the years is revealed. Cate in the current story, is a university librarian working on archives whose research connects her to these two women. In the process of piecing together their lives, she finds herself. While Cate’s story was moving in its own right, it really was Lizzie and Maddie’s stories that captivated me more. Perhaps because their stories were based in fact, but also because it took me a while to see how the narratives were connected other than because Cate was researching them.
The author’s note at the end lets us know how well researched the novel is. Many of the characters were based on real people and the Kibler lets us know the places where she has taken liberties. While I admired the strength of these women and appreciated the historical significance of the home, I had a hard time making the connection between the past and present stories, thus the less than four star rating. Having said that, I enjoyed the writing and hope to read Calling Me Home as it has been on my list for quite a while.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Crown through NetGalley.
Julie Kibler is a great writer. I fell madly in love with her book “Calling Me Home”, her debut novel published in 2013. Her irresistible novel often had me laughing or crying. Julie is gifted in her ability to portray the perceptions and emotions of her characters. She writes with sensitivity, and insights, rendering meticulous attention to details. This second novel....”Home for Erring and Outcast Girls”.....has been a long anticipated wait. Many of Julie’s fans...me included...are excited happy campers with this new book. Its wonderful! The research is impeccable .....crafting is easy to follow ...and storytelling is vibrant.
Julie - once again - delivers an evocative - emotional - sorrowful - captivating story. She engages and educates us about a little known time in history.
A little background history: The Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls was a facility for unwed mother’s in Arlington, Texas. Reverend James T. and Maggie May Upchurch opened the home in 1903. It took in homeless, usually pregnant women from Texas and the surrounding states. Unlike other homes in the area for “fallen women”, women at the Berachah Home were required/ allowed to keep their babies. They were not forced to give their babies up for adoption. The home closed in 1935 but then reopened as an orphanage from 1936-1942. The University of Texas purchase a property in 1963. On March 7, 1981, a Texas Historical Marker was installed and dedicated at the graveyard that served Berache Home.
Following several women from the early 1900’s..... to present day we meet: .......Cate Sutton......modern day archival librarian at The University of Texas in the year 2017. We also meet Cate’s assistant, Laurel Medina, - a few of her personal friends ....learn about her past life and the work that occupies her every waking moment. It’s not legal to take the archives home - ( they must stay at the library)....but we can feel how Cate wishes she could spend her days-off from work snuggled up at home reading those archives. Her fascination and dedication - learning all she can about the women who lived in the Berachah House was her passion. Going out with a friend was almost a chore - she felt more at home with the dead. Cate often visited the cemetery when she was longing for something she couldn’t have: HOME. “Situations that require intimacy of any kind, however, topple the careful balance I’ve worked so hard to create. I accepted it years ago. And despite my therapist’s confidence, it remains painfully obvious when I attempt to engage on anything more than a surface level”. “I am a grown woman. I am a professional. I manage my life well. But I am broken. People sense it, and when they do, they walk away”. “Me? I run”. We’ll learn more about Cate .....and experience her growth.
We also meet: .......Lizzie Bates. Lizzie is 19 when we first meet her in 1904. She has a baby name Docie. They come to live at the House....after some of the most devastating things she endured....really awful. My heart ached! In the beginning before the Berachah House... “How Lizzie had earned her keep out at a country farm, lately, cooking for Negro inmates. How the farm superintendent had taken her into his own shack to live in sin, feeding her heroin to subdue her, and then passed her to the chain gang boss when he tired of her. How’d she taken sick, and it crippled her so badly she couldn’t stand. And finally, how they’d sent her and Docie to jail, no regard for whether she lived or died”. Lizzie’s time at the house - the way she changes was really beautiful. I came to really treasure her goodness - the pure soul she was born with and passed on to her daughter .....and best friend Mattie.
We also meet Mattie Corder.... 23 years at the ‘start’. I loved Mattie as much as Lizzie...but I worried about her differently. Mattie’s outer shell was more feisty than Lizzie. It looks like she is confident and strong...less sensitive than Lizzie. She’s definitely angry, sad, beaten down with grief —( her baby son died)... but her bark is bold, ruthless!. But really .... my opinion about both Lizzie and Mattie changed and inter-changed over time. I felt I grew with both of these women - and grew to understand them why Mattie might be sarcastic and Lizzie not.
The history and real people ( Lizzie and Mattie), and others: Reverend James Toney, Maggie Mae Upchurch, etc..... was fascinating to learn about. Sad too....just can’t get away from the sadness.
The author’s notes at the end are deeply felt... The entire book is excellent. I’ll continue to read anything Julie Kibler writes!
Thank You Netgalley, Crown Publishing, and Big Congrats to Julie Kibler 💖
This book attracted me because I've been to most of the locations mentioned in the book. I was born in one of the cities and grew up on another of them and have spent time all over TX. That the book was about a real place, the Berachah Industrial Home for Erring Girls in Arlington, Texas, also led me to want to read the it. This home gave hope to girls, women, and their children who had been battered, abused, raped, and often were on death's door before this group would take them in and give them a home for as long as they needed one. What was remarkable about this home was that the girls/women were encouraged to keep their children when almost any other place would have required them to give them up for adoption before they would have been allowed into the home.
The book is broken into two different timelines, the time when the Berachah Industrial Home for Erring Girls was in existence in the early 1900s and later, when two women are researching the library archives about the home in 2017. The timeline that interested me was the earlier timeline and I think I would have enjoyed the book more if the later timeline might have just consisted of archive information rather than a story with characters concerns. It was distracting to be taken away from the perils of Lizzie, Mattie, and the earlier characters, to then read about the problems of the modern day women.
This book made me extremely sad and the subject matter is very difficult to read. Most of the girls during the earlier time, that needed the help of this home (and so many more were turned away because there wasn't room, money, or because they weren't yet "tainted" or abused enough) were victims of rape, incest, sexual abuse, starvation and neglect and so much more. The home had strict rules to remain there but it also allowed the residents to learn work skills and find their place in the small society, where they could earn their keep, sleep in a bed, have shelter for themselves and their child, and leave the abject poverty and misery of their former lives. The challenges of Lizzie and Mattie are heartbreaking but we get to see that they develop a lifelong caring for each other, a kind of enduring family that neither of them really had in the past.
This was a Traveling Sisters buddy read. Thank you to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC.
3.5 stars, rounded up Imagine my pleasant surprise to find that this wasn’t the tale of some horrid place, but a place of compassion and love. In 1904, there were few options for ruined girls and unwed mothers. And none that allowed a mother to keep their child. None except the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls. This story encompasses friendship, redemption and salvation. It’s also a sad reminder of how little some things have changed over the years.
Told from the standpoint of two of the girls who find shelter there in 1904 as well as a university librarian in 2017 who is studying the archived material from the Home.
I will admit to being much more interested in the earlier story, just because of the history involved.
One of the sad and constant themes of the book is how often young women aren’t believed when they’re raped, especially if the rapist is someone they know.
The book could have used a better editing job. At times, I felt it dragged. I was interested in the story, but I found I related to it more intellectually than emotionally. The author’s note explained how several of the characters were based on real people. Kibler has her own experience with the “underbelly of church politics” and she draws on it to develop Cate.
My thanks to netgalley and Crown Publishing for an advance copy of this book.
Established in 1903 in Texas, the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls, was an unprecedented institution that offered a chance of hope for girls who had little to no options left in life. Prostitutes, poor, homeless, abused — the Home offered a refuge for women fleeing their terrible situations. Differing from other organizations, this home offered rehabilitation, training, spiritual counsel and support for unwed mothers without separating mother from child. The goal was to provide a safe haven for young women while training them to become productive members of society. Lizzie and Mattie are two of the young women who reside at the Home in 1905 finding true friendship together. Lizzie’s daughter Docia was only a toddler when she arrived and grows up feeling the love and support of all who reside and work within the Home.
In 2018, Cate is a librarian and is working in the university library Archives. She becomes fascinated in piecing together the journals and articles about the Berachah Home. She feels personally connected to the girls who once resided at this unparalleled nurturing shelter of its time.
This novel unfolds through three perspectives (Lizzie, Mattie and Cate) and two timelines. I was completely captivated by both timelines and I loved all the characters equally yet uniquely. They each had their own intriguing and engrossing back story that slowly unfolded as the novel progressed.
I have not had a reading experience like this before. The novel started off strong. I felt an immediate connection to the storyline and characters. However, I started to struggle with some sentence structure. I’m not sure if I wasn’t focusing properly but I found I had to reread sentences several times. The words weren’t flowing smoothly, but I remained fascinated with the storyline and characters. It is not a book to be rushed, it needs to be slowly savoured to get the true feel of the writing and the times. Once I slowed down a little, I was able to absorb the words more smoothly and enjoyably. Around the 2/3 point, the pace picked up immensely and I hungrily devoured the rest of the book. That last section of the book really kicked it up a few notches for me.
There is one major twist that completely blind sided me in the latter half of the novel. It was unexpected, cleverly plotted and such a brilliant addition to the story.
Finishing this novel, I felt sad to leave these characters. I truly enjoyed spending hours with them. Reading the Author’s Note at the end made me love this book even more. Knowing these characters and this Home are based on real people and events makes it even more impactful. I am in awe of the founders of this Home in a time when it would have been difficult to show these “ruined” women respect. I thank Julie Kibler for writing this novel and opening our eyes to these unsung heroes of their time.
Side note: it was eerie to read the parts of this novel referring to living in quarantine during the Spanish flu all while we are in quarantine for COVID 19.
Thank you to NetGalley for my review copy and my lovely local library for the loan of the physical copy!
The Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is a place in Texas where unwed mothers were sent to live and to raise their children. In the early 1900’s, it was unprecedented. Some women stayed and some learned skills which would eventually allow them to find employment outside of the home. All women became a family of sorts.
Lizzie and Maddie both arrive at the home with different stories. Lizzie with her daughter Docie in tow. Desperate and desolate, had she not found a place at Berachah, she and her daughter would most likely have died. The home softens her and gives her something to live for. It also gives her a best friend: Maddie. Maddie is a spitfire. Full of zest for life, Maddie makes the most of everything she learns and doesn’t take anything for granted even when people try to knock her down. Through pain, suffering and tears, Lizzie and Maddie have each other.
In 2017, Cate, a Librarian and her assistant Laurel, come across the archives of The Berachah Home and begin digging into its history. What they find bonds them together, in more ways than one.
The timeline in “The Home for Erring and Outcast Girls�� switches back and forth between the past and present day, though personally I preferred the historical timeline (which seems to be par for the course when I read historical fiction). The characters of Lizzie and Maddie evoked more emotion out of me and made me feel what they were feeling while Cate and Laurel’s story was a bit lacking in my opinion.
This is now the second book that I have read by Julie Kibler (“Calling Me Home” being the first (which I adored)), and I can now say that I am most certainly a fan of her writing and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
Thank you to NetGalley, Crown Publishing and Julie Kibler for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Published on Goodreads and NetGalley on 7.3.19. Will be published on Amazon on 7.23.19.
Based on the synopsis, this was a book that I was really looking forward to reading. I love historical fiction books and I thought a story about the real life Berachah Home sounded like it had a lot of potential. Unfortunately, I had a hard time connecting with the characters so this turned out to just be an okay read.
The Berachah Home was pretty unique back in the early 1900s. Let's face it, if a single woman back then was pregnant, she wasn't treated too kindly. Many women were sent away to live in homes with other pregnant women until they gave birth and put the babies up for adoption. What made the Berachah Home different from these other places was the women there were allowed to keep their babies and got the opportunity to learn job skills which would help them eventually find employment outside the home.
This book goes back and forth between different time periods and characters. Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride both come to the Berachah Home in the early 1900s and they form a friendship that will follow them thru some rough times. The present day storyline follows Cate Sutton, a university librarian, who is fascinated in learning more about the home and the women who lived there. Cate has dealt with her fair share of heartbreak herself.
My main issue with the book was even though the storyline taking place almost a century ago grabbed me from the start, I had pretty much lost interest by about a third of the way in. Other than a few moments here and there, I just wasn't feeling an emotional attachment to either of the women. And for the life of me I can't figure out why, but I guess the reality of it is not every character I read about is going to work for me. I was more interested in Cate Sutton's backstory and what led her to pretty much being out on her own.
So I'm left feeling slightly disappointed this wasn't a better read for me but on the positive side I got to learn a little bit about the Berachah Home.
Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.
This is a solid historical fiction about an important role that the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls in Texas played in supporting and providing a place for women and their children. Similar to other books of this genre, there is a contemporary timeline and a historical timeline (early 1900's). The different women-Cate, Mattie, and Lizzie represent the many women who have experienced trauma and heartache.
There's no doubt in my mind that this is a bookclub contender.
I just wished during my entire reading experience that I could have liked it more. I know, I know, we reviewers often fall back on that line and it might not appear genuine. But this is one of those books that I REALLY wish that I could just rave about and sob into my pillow or have difficulty talking about with a reader friend. Because these characters(in all timelines) really experience hardship.
But I felt the pace was really slow and even though I tried to put it aside and read other books and then try and return to it, I just never reached that place where it was any better than a 2 star rating for me.
No need to throw the rotten vegetables at me. I have already thrown the basket over my head.
Just as the 1900s are beginning in Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is one final, hopeful stop for all the young women who have lived on the streets due to various reasons.
Located in Arlington, the women are offered faith, training, and even rehabilitation services without taking the children from their mothers.
Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride meet there at the home, each with a set of unfortunate events that brought them. Both are mothers. One was abused and the other left stranded with a sick child. Their friendship brings them the support needed to right their ships.
In the second storyline, over one hundred years later, Cate Sutton is a librarian working at a university. She finds the histories of two “troubled” women. It piques her interest, and she begins to dig into the archives at her library to learn more about the home. Their stories lead Cate to face her own difficult past.
I had heard of homes where unwed women had babies and were “hidden,” even existing here in North Carolina until the 1970s. I had not heard of this type of home where mother and child could reside together to get their lives back in order, so the historical aspects of this fascinated me, and I soaked that up.
I’m also a big fan of how the friendship between Mattie and Lizzie was portrayed. It was authentic, and they really brought each other through very hard times. Although my favorite timeline was the historical one, which is common for me, I still enjoyed Cate’s story and watching her growth as a character.
Overall, Julie Kibler has penned a well-written historical novel about friendship, healing, and hope after heartbreaking despair. I sought more information about the home because I definitely wanted to learn more. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there if you’re interested.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
Home for Erring and Outcast Girls tells the story of real-life inhabitants of the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls, established near the turn of the 20h century in Arlington, Texas. The home, run by the Reverand J.T. Upchurch and his wife, Maggie May, provided a safe place for women, who often arrived on their doorstep pregnant. These girls or women were considered “fallen,” either because they had lost their virginity due to rape, had become pregnant out of wedlock, or had lived lives of prostitution, drinking or drugs. Unlike other “Christian” establishments, these women were allowed to keep their babies, and were cared for as long as needed.
This historical novel centers around two main characters, Mattie and Lizzie, who found their way to the home and became lifelong friends after suffering abuse and rejection by their families. Mattie and Lizzie were both based on real women who lived at Berachah.
I sadly found that so much of how women were looked upon and treated during Mattie’s and Lizzie’s time still holds true today, roughly 120 years later. This book couldn’t be more timely, with so much in the news now about women and their reproductive rights, and with such loud male “Christian” voices making decisions for us. The Berachah Home was a religious establishment, and given the time in history, it was a safe haven that apparently followed true Christian tenets. I found it interesting and so important that the author was so able to present both sides of Christianity, “the underbelly,” as she calls it in her author’s notes, and the real premise – loving each other and believing that we are all worthy.
There is a parallel storyline in this book, as well, and one that’s just as important. Cate Sutton, a modern-day university librarian, discovers the archives of the Home and becomes absorbed in researching details of what happened during that time, and especially to Mattie and Lizzie. Cate hires and befriends a student, Laurel, to help her piece together the story of the Home and what happened to the inhabitants. Both Cate and Laurel have their own secrets, and working together, they build a trust that finally helps each of them deal with their past, allowing them to move forward.
Beyond the actual history of the Home itself, and its “girls,” I enjoyed this fictional story of Cate and her young friend Laurel. The author, Julie Kibler, skillfully weaves a tale of these two that expands on the ostracization and misogyny that Mattie and Lizzie were forced to endure and that shaped their futures. She did a wonderful job of surprising the reader with an important detail about Cate about midway through the book. I possibly should have guessed the detail early on, but I didn’t, and that’s to the author’s credit and writing skill.
I was enthralled by this story. I’m a Texan, yet I had never heard of the Berachah Home until I read this book. After finishing it, I’ve already begun googling to find out more about it.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for an ARC of this excellent novel in exchange for my honest review. I'm also deeply grateful for Julie Kibler for her sensitive portrayal of the way women, or those who follow different paths, are still often looked upon today.
I enjoyed this book... it definitely wasn't one that I could fly through in a day. I read it off and on for about a week and a half.
It was probably about 100 pages longer than it needed to be, and it got confusing with all the different points of view and timelines. There was Mattie POV in 1904 and forward, and then Lizzie's POV in 1904 and forward, then there was Cate as a teenager, and present day Cate and Laurel. It was just a lot.
I could have absolutely done without Cate's entire story line. I feel like it made the book way longer than it needed to be and muddied up the story. I would have been a happy with just a book about the Berachah Home.
3.5 stars rounded down because I liked it more than I loved it.
4 stars Thanks to Penguins First to Read program and Crown for allowing me to read and review this book. Publishes July 23, 2019.
Although I see in reading other reviews of this book that people were either confused or they just did not see the necessity of all the characters in the book, I fell in love with them. Likewise, I appreciated the changes in time throughout the story. Based on a real place, during a real time frame, with composites of real people this book remains fiction.
We first meet Cate - the new Librarian at the University Collections Department of the Texas University. It is 2017. This is the campus that eventually assumed ownership of The Berachah Industrial Home and their grounds. Cate has taken a real interest in the history of the Berachah Home and is spending considerable time researching it on her own. But to understand Cate, we take a trip back in time through numeral chapters, even as we make more current discoveries about her.
When we first gather at the The Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls in Arlington Texas it is the early 1900's. That is where we meet Lizzie and Mattie - two of the young wayward girls who made the Berachah Home their home. We get to know Lizzie and Mattie very well through their lives, both at the Home and through their life long commitments to each other.
I thought reading this author was similar to reading Fiona Davis, who is so very good at placing a great story into an old, but still currently used building. This being the first novel I have read by Kibler, I found it appealing. The use of a dual time line is currently in vogue, her material and historical content well researched, and her topic both emotionally raw and at times gravely sad. All total this book was interesting, highly entertaining, very informative, and well worth the time to read.
In 2013, Julie Kilber's debut book, Calling Me Home was one of my favorite books that year. I’ve impatiently waited for her next book since then. Imagine my delight when I received and e-Arc copy from Netgalley of Kibler’s latest book, “Home for Erring and Outcast Girls”. While I wasn’t quite as enamored of this book as I was with her debut book, I think that this new book is an entertaining work that deftly combines a dual timeline narration of historical fiction centering in a personal way on the experiences of women today and at the turn of the 19th century.
We meet Lizzie and Mattie in Texas in 1903. They are both regarded as fallen women since they’ve both had children out of wedlock, or have worked as prostitutes. They each reached the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls closely together, and they were taken in by the religious home. At the Home, Lizzie and her daughter Docie found a place of refuge. Maggie chafed at the strictures placed on her, but relied heavily on Lizzie’s friendship to get her through some hard experiences.
Cate Sutton narrates the modern timeline. She’s stumbled upon a little known graveyard on the grounds of the Texas University that she works at as a librarian. A plaque at the graveyard has spurred her to research the Berachah Home in the library’s archives. We learn how alone Cate is. Her solitariness stems from hurts suffered as a member of a close-knit, fundamentalist church that she attended with her family up through her high-school years. Cate’s story is told in two timelines. One timeline describes the current time, and one as she describes the events of twenty or so years ago that led up to the rupture with her family.
Most of the way through the book I was more intrigued with Lizzie and Maggie’s stories. I wanted to skip through the Cate sections and get back to the ‘girls’. But as the timelines developed there was a surprise in Cate’s story that I did not see coming. Sadly, the 1903 women, and the modern women still face some of the same forms of ostracism.
I could almost taste the dust and feel the heat of summer in Texas and Oklahoma in the early part of the 20th century. The historical elements were finely drawn, and well-balanced between being factual as well as entertaining. Having grown up in a fundamentalist religion, I could relate to the relief that Lizzie felt when firmly giving her life over to God, and paradoxically the unsupported situation Cate found herself in when her patriarchal church’s rules no longer fit her life. This is not a book specifically about religion, but there is a lot of talk about God and what the ‘girls’ have to do in order stay in the religious refuge of the Berachah House, and what is expected of Cate in her religion.
Ultimately, this books is about having the strength, in any era, to forge your own path based on what is right for you. Admittedly, there were much fewer paths open to the women of a hundred years ago. Even today though, it takes more strength to let people into your heart again after you’ve been hurt than is does to remain cutoff and sheltered from further hurt. But what kind of life is that?
Julie Kibler has written a thought provoking work of Historical Fiction that I gladly will be recommending to others this year, just as I still whole-heartedly recommend Calling Me Home.
‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Crown Publishing; and the author, Julie Kibler; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What a disappointment. This could have been a fine, interesting book about the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls built in 1903 in Arlington, Texas. This was a real place and operated until 1935. It was a unique place at the time as it did not shame the girls, encouraged them to keep their children and taught them marketable skills to operate in the outside world. It was full of love and compassion, the first that some of the women had ever experienced.
Then for some bizarre reason, the author threw in another story about Cate Sutton, an university librarian in 2017, apparently working on the archives of the Home. It is really about her high school romance that she is still reliving years later. It adds NOTHING to the story and is frankly aggravating. I had to slog through those parts and eventually skimmed them. The big surprise was so obvious and and unnecessary. And worse of all. It had NOTHING to do with the really compelling story of the Home. I am really aggravated that the editor, Hilary Rubin Teeman, did not do her job and edit this unnecessary filler out of an otherwise fine book. Shame on her.
The story of the Home is told through the eyes of Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride, both with horrendous stories. The author claims Mattie and her son had CF although there are no clues in the actual story. It's only in the author's notes that this fact is claimed. It is really heart breaking to read about how women were treated in these times. Women seemed to be raped routinely and left to deal with the outcomes on their own.
This is an extremely interesting story about the times and seems to be historically accurate. It's too bad that it was ruined by an unnecessary story that made it difficult to stay interested in it.
The Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls was a facility for unwed mothers in Arlington, Texas. Rev. James T. and Maggie May Upchurch opened the home on May 14, 1903, and it took in homeless, usually pregnant, women from Texas and the surrounding states. Unlike other homes for "fallen women", women at the Berachah Home were required to keep their babies; no children were given up for adoption. **** This is the story of two of the women who lived there, Lizzie and Mattie from 1903 - 1933. It is also the story of Cate who in 2017 started to review the records of the home and the lives of the people who lived there. BTW, Cate has a pretty good story too.
The story was very good and heartwarming. Girls were given a second chance at the Berachah (pronounced Baraka). They thrived because of it.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin's First to Read, which, sadly, is now defunct. I have received quite a few good books through this channel.
Julie Kibler has done it again! Home for Erring and Outcast girls is a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel. I loved it, not only because of the wonderful characters and compelling storyline, but because it so artfully illustrates past and present discrimination against women, and how organized religion can save some people but destroy others. It's a relevant book for our time with a twist I didn't see coming!!
I was terribly disappointed in this novel. I read an ARC on my kindle from Netgalley. Kibler's first book was brilliant and one I absolutely loved but this second novel was a letdown for me. The first chapter was filled with sentence fragments and read choppy for me. The story, going back and forth in time, about these unwed and 'outcast' young women was such a compelling plot and I appreciate any and all historical research the author did on the subject but her delivery to a fiction piece was not on par with her writing as shown in her first book, Calling Me Home. Some of the bits turned me off completely and I didn't feel invested in any of the characters.
This was my first book by Julie Kibler, but I loved her writing!
I was pulled into the premise of Home for Erring and Outcast Girls because I was fascinated by these women, based on a true story, of their struggles to find a place to live after a life of drug abuse and prostitution. Turned out on their own by family, and no where to go, with names soiled for the times of the turn of the 20th century Texas.
Their stories both heartbreaking and endearing, to see them build a new life of hope and redemption at the homestead. As always, I am so entranced with Historical Fiction, and reading the authors note really struck a chord that so many details of this novel were true and that these characters really existed.
*Thank you to the publisher for this free copy for review. All opinions are my own
Built in 1903, The Berachan Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is a ray of hope for lost souls looking for a fresh start. Set outside of Arlington, Texas, young women find respite from poverty, drugs, tragedy, and the stigma of being an unwed mother. Two such women, Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride, find an instant connection when they both find the path to The Berachan Home, forming a bond of friendship that lasts a lifetime. Life has been tough, both finding it almost impossible to believe God's grace is big enough to offer them love and redemption. Cate Sutton has recently accepted a job as the university librarian where the archives for The Berachan Home are housed. Cate struggles to form relationships and feels a connection to those buried in The Berachan Home cemetary, which she visits frequently to reflect on her own past and that which haunts her yet today. As these women's stories unfold, there was a beauty in the strength, kindness and ability to rise above their circumstances. I had never heard of The Berachan Home and was so impressed by all the good they did in the many years they offered solace to so many desolate women and children.
Six years ago I read Julie Kibler's book Calling Me Home and simply adored it. It's a book that has stayed with me over the years so it should not come as a shock that I was oh-so-eager to read Home for Erring and Outcast Girls.
This story is based on the real-life Berachah Industrial Home for Girls and is told using three time lines - one set in Arlington, Texas in 1904 which follows the lives of two young women, Lizzie and Maddie, who meet at the Home. The goal of Berachah was to help pregnant young women but instead of adopting out the babies, these young mothers were encouraged to raise their children at the Home (a vastly different approach than other homes of the time). The second story line occurs in 2017 and focuses on Cate, a university librarian who has become fixated on research depicting life at the Berachah home with the third going back to Cate's youth.
This is a well-researched novel (make sure to read the author's notes at the end) and I loved learning the historical aspects but sadly, I can't say that I loved it. The multiple time lines, while a popular format, didn't work for me here. The 1904 story line was interesting but both of Cate's story lines fell flat, made things overly complicated and could have easily been omitted for what they added to the story. I also felt that there was too much going on with multiple characters and time lines. The frequent shifting between the eras felt awkward which resulted in me struggling to connect with the characters and find a focus to the story (especially in the middle where my interest waned quite a bit).
I want to rave about this book (I really do!) but I struggled to engage with the characters and felt that the book was longer than it had to be. That said, I did enjoy learning about the historical aspects, mainly this unique Home what went against the grain to ensure that women who chose to, could raise their own children as well as witnessing the dangers and restrictions women have faced in the past.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Crown Publishing for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
A story of three women. Of friendships and the hardship they faced. Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls in Texas is a home for pregnant and lost girls. It moves between the past and the present. This was emotionally charged and brought tears to my eyes more than once. Difficult to follow at times but I stayed with it and I'm glad I did. A remarkable story everyone woman should read.
Dawnny-BookGypsy Novels N Latte Review Hudson Valley NY
I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review...
So...Let me start off by saying that I was really excited to read this book as soon as I read the blurb about it on Goodreads. The fact that it is loosely based on real events also makes it more enjoyable for me! The story itself was fine...a bit slow for my taste though, and ultimately sad. 😭The ending wasn’t bad, but it really wasn’t good either. It just kind of “was”. I think part of my issue with this book is that I had expectations! I expected there to be more drama. I expected there to be more action. I expected it to be a little quicker paced. I expected to automatically love it just because of it’s topic. With all of that being said, I still don’t regret reading it!📖
Home for Erring and Outcast Girls was Julie Kibler's second novel and once again her writing was beautiful , insightful and meaningful. After reading Julie Kibler's first novel, Calling Me Home, I was thrilled to see she had written a second book. Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing I was granted access to an ARC version and I was beyond thrilled. I had high expectations for Home for Erring and Outcast Girls based on my feelings after reading Calling Me Home and I was not disappointed. Julie Kibler had a distinct way of writing her books. In both novels, she introduced several characters and told some of their stories in present time and some were told in the past. I enjoyed getting to know the different characters in Home for Erring and Outcast Girls. By the time the story ended, I felt a real connection to them. While I read Home for Erring and Outcast Girls I laughed, cried, felt the pain some of the girls experienced and felt bewildered and frustrated at how women were treated back then. I was impressed how Julie Kibler, in both of her novels, was able to take meaningful and controversial times in our country's history and bring them alive and make them so believable and factual at the same time.
Home for Erring and Outcast Girls followed the stories of two young women, Lizzie and Mattie, whose destinies brought them together at the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection for Erring Girls in 1904. Each came with a fragile past and nowhere else to go. Lizzie had suffered emotional, physical and verbal abuse when she arrived at the doorsteps of the Berachah Home. Mattie arrived sick and about to loose her beloved two year old son to the same illness she had contracted. Lizzie and Mattie latched on to one another and became as close to being sisters as they could be. The story followed their lives throughout the time they spent at the Berachah Home and continued even when Mattie chose to leave and ended up living in Oklahoma. Mattie and Lizzie's stories were revealed through the research of present day librarian, Cate Sutton. She worked as head librarian in Arlington, Texas at the University of Texas which was in close proximity to where the Berachah Home used to stand, giving her access to the Berachah Home archives. Cate's own troubled past was also revealed and linked in many ways to that of Lizzie's and Mattie's. I found myself captivated and drawn into all the injustices and lack of family support all three women suffered.
I can' t recommend Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler highly enough. It brought together the many themes of family, home, courage, heartbreak and pain. I can't wait for another book by Julie Kibler. I am now a big fan of her writing and story telling. Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to read this ARC version of Home for Erring and Outcast Girls.
A lifetime apart, Cate Sutton discovers Lizzie and Mattie in the library where she works and in an old and unkempt cemetery nearby. What exactly was “The Home for Erring and Outcast Girls”? Was it a good option for young women and their mostly illegitimate children or something else? With only a handful of ancient records and the cemetery as a resource, Cate sets out to discover just that. While dealing with issues and struggles in her own life and mind, she takes on a young assistant with her own drama and delves into the lives of Lizzie and Mattie and the other young women and staff at the home. She comes to know and love them as much as one can without having ever met. This book took me back to another time and into the lives of some unfortunate young ladies and kept me there long after I finish the last page. If you enjoy hisstorical fiction, put this book on your must read list! Thank you to NetGalley for an advance read copy of this great book.
No rating. I only got to just short of the half way point. Not for me. As interested I am in the onus of this historic place in Texas, I cannot tread through the miles of flatland to get to a morsel of its real operation. There is so much melodrama and severity of adjective that you would think it could have cut to the quick. But no, verbose and the present day story cuts any tension or interest I might have had in the older era.
She writes conversation poorly. But that's not what kept me from coming back to this one. It was nearly the whole thing.
HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS by Julie Kibler is an absorbing fictional tale based on a real historical place that sheltered women and their children from cruelty and isolation. Often horrifying, as well as familiar, their stories will touch your heart. Great novel honoring lifelong friendships.
The story is told from multiple points-of-view in dual timelines. A majority of the novel is historical, with some modern-day sleuthing to help tell the women and children’s stories.
Historically, “fallen” women were shamed and shunned for results of relationships not always of their choosing. It’s a horrifying fact that rape, and/or abuse, changes a woman’s life, whether anyone knows about it or not. Abuse can come in many forms, some effects visible, while others are hidden behind secrets never told. This book delves into all these historical issues with a character-driven tale of one place and its affect on these women and their children.
HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS is an amazing volume of history brought to life with a talented author’s imagination. Details undoubtedly researched thoroughly are vividly portrayed by several women’s stories that intertwine with others later in history.
My only complaint is that the book was too detailed when I was ready to move on. I was ready for a conclusion by 75% through the book, and that’s when it really slowed for me. Too much time was spent on Mattie’s situation, when I wanted more about Lizzie and Docie in their timeline, as well as River, Cate and Laurel in the modern-day timeline.
I was especially impressed with the characterization. Each woman’s story comes alive with her details, some of which are kept secret, binding them to each other with their unique situations that brought them together in the first place. For those who love religious-inspired stories, there are plenty of references to faith and how it interacts with all the women and their children, as well as those who cared for them.
The volume of research done for this novel is both fascinating and overwhelming. Bringing it all together in such a cohesive story with captivating characters is a feat of unquestionable talent.
I feel I should forewarn about several triggers for some readers. If rape or abuse is a trigger for you, these women’s stories may be hard to endure. On the other hand, they may have a healing affect if you’re ready, but their authenticity is sometimes shocking and heartbreaking.
Also, if you’ve lost a child, a large part of the story-line is about women who gave birth, often under dire circumstances. The early 1900s are rough times and not all women and children will survive. Those who do, form lifelong friendships that weather the storms of their lives together.
Although this novel is oftentimes dealing with sorrow, it’s also filled with overcoming grief and fear with strength and endurance. It’s hopeful in a time and place that was difficult.
Above all, HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS made me think about all the women in history who could have benefited from this beautiful place. Where women and their babies could land, without fear of having to separate.
It’s a shame that even today, women are often outcasts for their choices. We as loving Christian women owe our sisters our compassion. As women of faith we can lift each other up above vicious rumors and speculation.
I often think about how many amazing authors I’d miss if I wasn’t a reviewer. Julie Kibler would be one of them. None of my GoodReads friends had listed this book to read when I stumbled upon it on NetGalley.com. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to try someone new-to-me, in exchange for an honest review.
This book wasn’t always easy to read. It enraged me with injustices portrayed, real or fictional. Books like this one renew my faith and leave me with so many thoughts about how we can do better. Women need to support women and the children they bear, no matter the circumstances, because we all deserve God’s grace.
Author Julie Kibler is now on my radar and her first novel, CALLING ME HOME, is on my wishlist. HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS beautifully portrays women’s success over adversity, even when they don’t agree with one another. That friendship built on trust outlasts all obstacles. You’ll want to give your best friend a hug after this one.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of TheZestQuest.com. A digital advanced copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Thanks in advance for following links and sharing this review on social media.
The Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls in Texas is the basis for this historical fiction novel. The home provided a safe place for women and their children, for the women to turn their lives around and for the children to be safe and cared for. Two of the main characters, Lizzie and Mattie, are based on real "fallen" women during the period 1903 to 1935. The other two main characters, Cate and River, live during the present day.
The book is filled with both the physical and emotional struggles of women. Their vulnerability and courage - mostly when treated badly by men and by society. The book was fascinating, although a little slow at times. It is definitely an eye-opener to the past as Kibler paints an interesting glimpse into the lives of these women.
Thanks to Crown Publishing through Netgalley for an advance copy.
It is an important historical story for women. Each woman suffers loss and the sense of who they are. Some are able to persevere, others are are not, stuck; stuck by their reputation of being an erring or outcast girl.
Unfortunately, the story was slow moving. The back and forth timelines made it difficult to follow. I appreciated the history and reading about the daily schedule and operations of this home and its residents and their circumstances. I can see where they feel safe and respected in their own community of sorts. However, In the world outside of the home, it is not safe, and for those girls who have already “fallen,” they are not respected, especially by those who know them/know of them.
The one exception to this is Mattie, who at the end, finds true love and has made a respectable citizen and union local of herself.
In the current timeline, Cate also finds her true love and there’s obviously great hope for the future.
This is a fictionalized story based on a real place, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls in Texas, and on real people. The story is broken into two timelines. One focusing on a few people that lived and worked in the Berachah Home and a second more contemporary timeline of a woman that works in a library and studies the Home's history.
It can be heartbreaking to read the stories of the girls from the Berachah Home. The way women were historically treated was just terrible. I use the term women loosely as some of the characters were still so young when they ran (or were pushed) into trouble. It is sad to think that some people still run into the sort of backwards thinking that was presented in this story nowadays, though I like to think that there has been a lot of progress in many areas.
I found the story of the Berachah Home girls interesting and engaging right from the beginning. The contemporary story took a little longer to become engaging and felt a bit more contrived, though I did end up really enjoying that storyline as well.
I thought the writing was really well done. I previously read Calling Me Home by this same author and also enjoyed that story, which is why I chose to read this one. I would recommend this author to fans of historical fiction with a touch of modern day story included.
Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.