Amy's Reviews > The Foundling

The Foundling by Francis J. Spellman
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's review
Jan 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: army, australia, catholic, 20th-century, staten-island-ny, growing-up, family-life, orphanage, religious-sisters

I enjoyed this book. It starts out with a severely injured soldier returning home from World War One. (The book description above incorrectly says that he is a returning World War Two soldier). He finds himself in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, although he is not a Catholic. A wonderful train of events is set in motion then.

Written by Cardinal Spellman - Cardinal of New York City, and published in 1951, who managed to be delightfully reserved in the Catholic aspects of the book...they are most assuredly there, but not in the teachy-preachy way that detracts & distracts from a good story.

Peter, the boy in the story has a best friend in the orphanage who is black. Not much is said - like this was at all unusual - but it wasn't that common then, to be sure. This friend has a complicated family story that adds a lot to the book...Peter's own back story is almost completely unknown, but by telling the story of his friend, one learns of the difficulties that caused boys and girls to be in the orphanage...not always caused by the death of the parents.

I thought the book would be kind of dreary, but it wasn't at all. I also thought it would be an adult-level book, but one reviewer remembers reading it when she was nine years old, and another reviewer read it aloud to her children. Its subject is one my own children would likely not chose - the story of an orphan boy of their grandfather's generation growing to be a man, but it's readability will reward anyone who comes across it.

Additionally, the story takes place in New York City, and particularly on Staten Island, which back then (pre-1950) was a very small-town, rural kind of place. As my parents are from there, that was another reason I liked The Foundling.
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