Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unadoptables” as Want to Read:
The Unadoptables
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unadoptables

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,003 ratings  ·  267 reviews
The amazing humour and world-building of Nevermoor meets the wisdom and warmth of Rooftoppers in this completely unforgettable and totally gorgeous comedy-adventure!

In all the years that Elinora Gassbeek has been matron of the Little Tulip Orphanage, not once have the Rules for Baby Abandonment been broken. Until the autumn of 1886, when five babies are left in outrageous
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 14th 2020 by Puffin
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unadoptables, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Vaiomo ♡ It's a standalone, but the author claims to revisit the "World" of 'The Unadoptables' again in her next book. …moreIt's a standalone, but the author claims to revisit the "World" of 'The Unadoptables' again in her next book. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,003 ratings  ·  267 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Unadoptables
Ruby Granger
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A simply beautiful book which examines what it means to have a family.
Bash the Fash
Jul 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
As someone who works in child welfare this is the most offensive, horrifying, thing I have ever seen. This is incredibly harmful to children in the system. Disgusting.
Not only is this book offensive to orphans and adopted children, it also views the five "unadoptables" through a very white, ableist lens. For a more eloquent and thorough conversation on this, please go to this Twitter thread by Nicole Chung.

All children deserve to find a welcoming home, and just because a child is not adopted does not mean there is something wrong with them.

That said, I also found Milou annoying, though understandable, and liked the other children. The epilogue felt unfinishe
TS Chan
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-review-copy
ARC received from the publisher, Puffin UK, in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars.

The Unadoptables caught my eye because of its adorably whimsical cover, and I'm so glad to have read this wonderful tale of friendship and found family during this bleak and trying time.

I've always loved reading children's fiction for they have this wondrously cosy and endearing quality that much of adult fiction tend to lack. For me, it also never failed to harken back to my very early bookworm days as I devo
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
The Little Tulip Orphanage in Amsterdam is home to orphans Egbert, Lotta, Sem, Fenna, and Milou, children abandoned as infants under mysterious circumstances, the forgotten children shelved as unadoptable. With her journal of fantastical theories as to why she was found on the roof of the ophanage, in a coffin as a bassinet clutching a cat puppet, Milou knows it's only a matter of time before her parents, probably adventurous folk, return for her. They may have possibly dropped her basket on the ...more
Thank you Netgalley for this amazing ARC

My Dutch heart warmed while reading this book. I loved each and every one of the characters so much and reading it really just made me smile and made me happy. I honestly love this book.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Please consider these thoughts before you purchase or endorse this book:

There is no denying that Hana Tooke can write. There is, however, the need to question whether or not she should. Especially when she writes books that, despite their well-written words and descriptions, are harmful to the very children she is writing for.

The Unadoptables – A book about five particular orphans at The Little Tulip Orphanage who are deemed 'unadoptable' by the matron that named them, Elinora Gassbeek. A cr
Kim Tyo-Dickerson
I have been thinking a lot about this book and its unfortunate title. I am the mother of two adopted children, and neither of them, 16 year old and 11 year old, want to read this book due to the title. My husband hates the title. And I remember how much I hated it when I was handed a review ARC initially. I realized that it was trying to reclaim the word, that "unadoptable" should always be in ironic quote marks. I moved past it to read the story which is about how the children are lovable and a ...more
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
I did not read this book but as an adoptive mom, I am outraged that this book was even published! To claim that kids with disabilities, physical deformities and from other cultures are deemed unadoptable is completely wrong. A total misrepresentation of the adoption/foster care/disabled community. From a (rave) trade review: "Each longs to be adopted, but would-be parents reject them when they see the kids’ atypical attributes: Lotta’s 12 fingers, Egg’s East Asian ancestry (other characters defa ...more
Jul 30, 2020 marked it as didn-t-finish
Look I’m not gonna read this because a story about kids not being “adoptable” because of disability??? Or race???? IS NOT HEARTWARMING? Whose idea was this? Trauma sells I guess. Adoptees are real people, not your whimsy templates, and do not deserve this treatment in books.

Thanks to Nicole Chung on Twitter for bringing this to my attention.
Laura Noakes
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
OH MY GOUDA. This book, guys. I’ve already gushed about in on twitter, so sorry if you’ve already seen this before, but I need to talk about this book. THE UNADOPTABLES tells the story of five orphans in 19th century Amsterdam who are thrown into an adventure when they are forced to escape their orphanage one night. I visited Amsterdam a few years ago, and fell in love with it, so reading a novel set there was just fantastic. Hana captures the feel and essence of this magical city with ease, tra ...more
Hannah Rials
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book of 2020 so far! I want to be part of this little family and their amazing story!! I was sad to get to the end—wanted to keep reading!
Aug 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2020
* I received an e-galley from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewing from an adoption, child welfare lens this is a frustrating book from the title to the very last page. The author falls into the same tired tropes of orphans, foster youth and adoptees needing to be either a savior or anti-christ (see Good Omens). If our Otherness isn't in service to the whole world (or at least potential adoptive family) then we are ungrateful, damaged goods and have no value as human beings. Whil
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Yes, what an excellent message for children, that if you have a difference and disability or are the wrong race that NO ONE WILL WANT YOU. It’s a white ableist fairy tale!

To be clear: this is a horrible title and an appalling premise and it should be pulled immediately.
Belles Middle Grade Library
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this book! These kids were their own family, & best friends & I loved every aspect of that in here. They’ve escaped the orphanage where the matron is awful, & tells them basically that they’re Unadoptables. I understand why someone would be offended by that term w/o context but if these people would take the time to READ THE BOOK THEY ARE BASHING, they will see that the things that make people shy away from them, are actually what make them special. Who wants to be like every ...more
Carmen (TheReadingTrashQueen)
A huge thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review!


If you've seen my RTC post, you'd know this was rated 3.5/5 at first, rounded up to 4 because GR still doesn't allow us half stars. Pretty soon after I'd already decided to round it down to 3. And a bit later still, while I was writing out this review in my head, I realized there really isn't a lot I liked about this book, and a lot that I didn't, so the rating went down further.
I enjoyed the orphans' shenanigans in this book. They show true teamwork and love for each other as they come up with ways to overcome obstacles and save themselves. I liked the interesting tidbits of Dutch language and culture that was included since I didn't know much about it to begin with. This story has suspense and mystery galore. It felt a bit slow at parts, but I'm glad I kept on because the end was wonderful. :) I took off a star because the Rotman storyline seemed a bit odd. Why was he ...more
Kyat Meow Dragon rawr
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have to say penguin publishing knows how to get a girl interested in a proof copy sending it with stroopwaffels (my fave's) and tea with the book tied with a beautiful gold ribbon. Nostalgia for my Dutch childhood flashed before my eyes and I had to be the one to take it home.
The book, just like it's packaging was beautiful I enjoyed the twists and turns of the orphans adventures and loved every single one of them. It was a truly lovely kids book full of adventure, wild children's imagination
Aug 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
As an adopted person, this is vile. Absolutely vile. Clearly told by someone whose never once spoken or interviewed an adopted person. Our trauma isn't entertainment. ...more
Aug 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
What an absolutely asinine, disregardful and offensive title! And the premise?! Horrendous. How in the world did an editor and publisher approve this?
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
As always I wanted to read this book before rating and put it in its historical context.

A great historical book for children that is brave enough not to gloss over the hardships that 19th century orphans/people of colour/people with a disability faced. It would be tempting to read and judge this with todays standards in mind, but that wouldn't teach children anything about the past. Also it's good that the author acknowledged that orphanages at that time were basically money making operations. I
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book! what an adventure that had me on the edge of my seat and wanting to know how it ended finished it in two sittings!!
Margaux ✨
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You will fall in love with Lotta, Sem, Fenna, Egg and Milou. You will hold your breath at each and everyone of their (mis)adventures.
You have to read this incredible story.
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am now reading this book to my class and they are really enjoying it.
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Celeste by: TS Chan
Actual rating: 4.5 stars, rounded up.

TS recommended this book to me last year, and it sounded absolutely delightful. But instead of picking it up immediately, I decided to save it for when I needed something warm and sweet and hopeful to brighten up my world. That was absolutely the right decision. I found myself in desperate need of comfort after I finished reading Deadhouse Gates, the second installment in Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series. That book felt like it destroyed my soul. A
Annie Deo
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on my blog.


An absolute gem of a story set in Amsterdam that features a quirky Gothic vibe with mystery, adventure and above all, heart-warming friendship.

The Unadoptables focuses on five of the eldest orphans at the Little Tulip Orphanage who live in squalor under the gimlet eye of Elinora Gassbeak, its stern cold-hearted matron. After being confronted with the threat of being sold off into indentured servitude to a sinister ship captain, the children make a daring escape and
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Five very unique but outcast children have been labelled 'unadoptable' by the manager of the orphanage where they were all abandoned as babies. When this unscrupulous woman tries to sell the children they run away and embark on an adventure that will test them all. Will they each find the family they are looking for?

Milou is the main focus of this book and I do love her even if she is a little single minded sometimes. She does come to realise the value of the family she has even if it may not b
Charlie Watkins
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
FINALLY a series of unfortunate events has a worthy successor. Loved this story and all the characters in it
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
With regards to the people criticising this book, I can see that, at first glance, The Unadoptables would look like an offensive title. What I don't understand is why anyone with even a shred of common sense would believe that anyone would publish a book in order to demonise orphaned children. Then there's the fact that nothing about the synopsis suggests that Hana Tooke is actually saying these children don't deserve to be adopted. Instead, she is celebrating the things that make these children ...more
Brooke Garratt
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it
This story is lovely to read and is about found family. I really enjoyed the read. However, I am very put out by the disgusting name of this book, especially as this is a book for children I think it sets a really bad precedent for children in the system. It also focuses on people who are different in a bad light as though they are not deserving of family love. I don't think this is a good book for any children to be reading despite the story being a nice one. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nimona
  • Long Way Down
  • Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)
  • The Vanishing Trick
  • Monster
  • Such a Fun Age
  • Song of the Abyss (Tower of Winds, #2)
  • Lumberjanes, Vol. 12: Jackalope Springs Eternal (Lumberjanes, Vol. 12)
  • Eva
  • Little White Lies
  • Sweetpea (Sweetpea, #1)
  • Moonrise
  • Wintergirls
  • The Queen of Bloody Everything
  • Stolen: A Letter to My Captor
  • The Cat From Hunger Mountain
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Strangeworlds Travel Agency #1)
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice
See similar books…
Half Dutch/English, Hana Tooke grew up near Amsterdam and moved to the south of England at the age of twelve. After completing a degree in music, and then a PGCE, Hana was a primary school teacher for several years. She also completed the Bath Spa University Writing for Young People MA, and The Unadoptables was shortlisted for The Bath Children's Novel Award 2018. Hana now lives in Bath with two h ...more

Related Articles

This May, as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we wanted to take an opportunity to shine a light on some of the...
252 likes · 45 comments