Cover Image: Ghosts of the Orphanage

Ghosts of the Orphanage

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Public Affairs and Netgalley for this EARC in exchange for an honest review. 
If you have watched either Spotlight or The Keepers, I highly recommend you pick up this read! 
Kenneally dives deep into the 20th century Catholic orphanages in America that 5 million Americans passed through and experienced lasting trauma. The author spent ten years researching for this book and it shows with multiple witness testimony and historical research, she uncovers the secret deaths of children in these orphanages. 
The detailed testimony in this nonfiction investigative book was difficult to read. We are hearing from adult survivors who were maliciously beaten, laughed at, assaulted, and witnesses to murder as young children. The details of these horrific acts are things you cannot even begin to imagine. It is all hard to believe but it happened and Kenneally expresses that history will not be hidden behind closed doors anymore. 
If history has shown us anything it is that the Catholic Church continues to discount the lives of children. The nuns and clergy in charge of these orphanages were responsible for the murder of possibly hundreds of children and they just got away with it. Not only are the children still bearing these scars today they're trauma will continue into the next generation. 
I found Kenneally's writing easy to read but I think the layout of this book could have used some more shaping. I found at times it was a bit repetitive, and as much as I wanted to hear from every survivor, the stories started to all blend together. I did love to hear about outside of America orphanages and how those countries are working on restorative investigations. 
I found this expose so important and the Catholic Church needs to stop hiding and protecting abusers and start correcting their wrongs.
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Orphanages are suppose to be safe places for children without families.  This is what they are suppose to be.  This is also what they are NOT.  After a decade of research, Christine Kenneally is on a mission to shed light on the horrors that hid behind orphanage doors.  She centers her story on a catholic orphanage located in Vermont, St. Joseph's.  The secrets she learned from that facility, led her to secrets hidden by other institutions from all over the world.  

This is a true crime nonfiction novel which means the horrors written about in this book happened to unprotected children.  Saying that, I want people to understand that it may be hard to read.  Go in with open eyes when you read this story.  These stories need to continue to be brought to light to provide justice and healing for the victims involved.  

I have not read any of Christine Kenneally's books but that will change.  I feel that this novel was well researched and presented in a fashion that requires the reader to take stock of what was allowed to happen.  This book truly gives a new meaning to the phrase "generational trauma."

Special thanks to Netgalley and Public Affairs Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
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This review will be posted on March 21, 2023 to:

Happy pub day! This nonfiction addresses global accounts of HORRIFIC child abuse, murders, and their cover-ups. (Check trigger warnings and please do read with care!) The lens we learn about all of this is St. Joseph's Orphanage in Burlington, Vermont, USA. Slowly, the author folds in similar accounts of abuse in places like Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. The common denominator was that the orphanages or residential/boarding schools were run by the Roman Catholic Church. It was beyond disturbing to be reminded, because this isn't the first exposé on the Catholic Church, that people were more focused on protecting the institution (and, therefore, protecting the alleged abusers) rather than protecting minor children. My only point of contention is that, at some point, the abominable and detailed descriptions of child abuse became repetitive. I hate saying that because those repetitive stories are the stories of individuals. But there are better ways for a writer to relay extremely detailed but repetitive acts of abuse. #GhostsOfTheOrphanage Rating: 3.75/5 ⭐️
This book is scheduled for publication on March 21, 2023. Thank you @publicaffairsbooks for providing me this digital ARC via @NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you Netgalley and Public Affairs Publisher for the gifted eARC.  All opinions expressed here are mine alone.  

Please Note: My rating and review is solely based on my opinion of the author's research, uniqueness, writing, personal impact, intrigue, logic, and my overall opinion. It is not based on the entertainment of this sensitive subject matter and survivor accounts.
⚠️Reader discretion is advised.  

Swipe for the full description ⏭️⏭️ 
This book explores many crimes perpetrated and covered up in Orphanages around the world in the twentieth century.  Although this book is not limited to one orphanage, it centers around the Catholic-operated, St. Joseph's Orphanage in Vermont.  

I'm not going to lie, this book is filled with difficult and triggering content.  However, it's important that the world knows and understands that this is real.  These horrible and atrocious acts that seem unbelievable actually transpired not too long ago. 

'𝑾𝒉𝒊𝒕𝒆 𝒖𝒔𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒂𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒍𝒅𝒓𝒆𝒏, "𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒔𝒆 𝒈𝒖𝒚𝒔 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒐𝒏𝒍𝒚 𝒅𝒐 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒅𝒐 𝒊𝒏 𝒔𝒆𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒕. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒔𝒖𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒐𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒔𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆. 𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒂𝒌 𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒊𝒏 𝒑𝒖𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒄 𝒂𝒃𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒅𝒐, 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒃𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒌 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆." '

The author did a phenomenal job researching and interviewing the survivors of St. Joseph's while also interviewing victims' of comparable crimes in orphanages around the world. The connections and similarities of crimes committed in these orphanages are astounding.  I have a lot of respect for this author, whose investigative journalism assisted with bringing these hidden secrets into the light.  Ultimately leading to changes in laws and forcing the Catholic church to make changes to its records system.

The only criticism I have is that some information was repetitive and it seemed as though different orphanage interviews and information were intermixed with the case of St. Josephs's orphanage.  

If you are seeking an eye-opening read and want to learn more about what happened inside this orphanage and what changes have been made, then this book is for you.  

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 (CAWPILE 7.71)
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Ghosts of the Orphanage by Christine Kenneally ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Many thanks to @netgalley and @publicaffairsbooks for the advanced copy. It comes out this Tuesday!

The children’s accounts in this book are 5-star accounts, so my rating is solely based on the writing itself. These stories deserve to be told and heard and I hope justice will prevail.

What I liked: This book was meticulously researched. It was clear the author had spent time on this topic and wanted to represent these children well. I also loved the unapologetic way information was presented. It wasn’t sugar coated, nor did the author shy away from being clear who the bad actors were/are.

What I struggled with: The format of the book didn’t do it for me. I was not sure why it was broken up in 3 different sections when a lot of the information was repeated. I read the same stories about the same incidents multiple times. It felt insensitive and retraumatizing. I believed that the entire book could’ve been written inside the attorney section.

I also struggled with the vast amount of characters. Because of the repetition and unclear format, I didn’t always follow who we were focusing on. It felt like the author wanted to make sure every voice was heard from every orphanage, which is respectable, but the effect could’ve been better had there been more focus on fewer stories.

All that said, this is a story that needs to be uncovered. This read contains all the triggers so proceed with caution.
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Christine Kenneally"s new book, "Ghosts of the Orphanage", offers and deep dive into the system failures of orphanages. It's main focus centers around St. Joseph's Orphanage in Vermont, but it pulls away its focus at times to draw out similarities in cruel stories that come out of other orphanages, even as far away from Vermont as Australia. 
Engrossing and vivid, the horrors presented in Kenneally's book are captivating and disheartening. The reader is presented with memories told by many people, introduced to interviewee's that survived countless cruelties and guided through a mess of information in a coherent manner. Her narration offers insight on the relation between experiences and events, relaying how the time that passed effects current efforts to understand what was remembered accurately and find justice for the victims. 
For readers who enjoyed "The Devil in the White City", Kenneally's "Ghosts of the Orphanage" is a true-crime read that is filled with a gripping explanation of horrors the public should have known about long ago.
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Ghost Of The Orphanage by Christine Kenneally 
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Genre: True Crime
Pub Date: March 21, 2023

Thank you to Netgalley and PublicAffairs for an ARC in exchange for and honest review.

What a horrifying and heartbreaking book. Christine Kenneally, spent alot of time (10 years) researching and investigating for the publication of this book. Ghost Of The Orphanage is not for the faint if heart, it tells the true stories of the brutal abuse these poor innocent children went through while being in the Orphanage.
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Ghosts of the Orphanage is an intense, albeit important book. The author, Christine Kenneally, tells the true stories of children raised in orphanages, particularly St. Joseph’s in Vermont, and the brutal abuse they suffered at the hands of their supposed caretakers. This book is not for the faint of heart, but Kenneally handles it as sensitively as possible. Sometimes, this book read a little bit like bits and pieces strung together, and while that was mildly frustrating, it mirrors the memories and flashback the now-adult victims can recollect. It is both eye-opening and heartbreaking, and makes your wonder about who could currently vulnerable and unheard. 

Special thanks to Net Galley and Public Affairs Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
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Thanks to NetGalley and PublicAffairs for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. 
Do yourself a favor and look up trigger warnings on this before diving in. That being said, wow. Christine Kenneally did a wonderful job of shedding light on the atrocities faced by children in the system. Ghosts in the Orphanage is a dark, but necessary account of the horrors faced by children on a daily basis, something that I think many people know too little about. I spent a lot of my time reading this slack jawed and horrified, but this should be used as a turning point, to make things better.
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Despite the horrific topic of this book, this author is AMAZING at what she does in her writing, research, and empathy for the victims of this tragedy and the ones not yet spoken about. I cannot imagine the time and energy put in to tracking down the individuals involved, having to hear their stories, and face the ones guilty of carrying out the horrific abuse encountered by these individuals as children. Even if the story was not successdul enough to bring justice where ot was deserved, the fact that the author got the story out there, and told it in such a way that anyone that was involved and is here today to read her story and these interviews and accounts will live with the guilt of knowing how it affected these poor children into their adult lives and their families. I hope it brings to light more of this type of abuse so that justice can be served for those enduring it today in all forms. This was one powerful book that will stick with me for a very long time. I hope the families and any living survivors can go on knowing that they have been heard and their stories and feelings are valid!
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Wow, that was such an interesting read! I feel that Kenneally did phenomenally at researching the history of problems in the orphanages and presenting the data in storytelling mode, which kept me reading. Heartbreaking and fascinating in equal measure, at least to someone who really wasn't familiar with the vast array of problems inherent in the system. I think our nonfiction book club will really want to read this, so we will purchase several copies for the collection.
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Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review. 
Expected publication date: March 21, 2023
Christine Kenneally, an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed news who has been featured in other publications such as The New Yorker and the New York Times, examines the tragic history of the North American orphanage in “Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, a Conspiracy of Silence and a Search for Justice”. 
For decades, orphanages across North America housed thousands of children, some whose parents had died, some who had been abandoned and some whose parents innocently thought that it was a better place for their child. Most of these orphanages had the Catholic Church at its helm, with nuns and priests as the primary carers and religious role models of the children. However, as the world is just now beginning to discover, these orphanages and similar homes and schools for children were indeed a terrifying place, full of sadistic caregivers whose malicious treatment of the children was ignored, and essentially covered up, by the largest religion in the world. Kenneally takes an in-depth look at this practice, interviewing survivors and attempting to uncover the secrets that the Catholic Church was desperate to keep hidden. 
There are so many disturbing things in this book, that I can’t even begin to issue trigger warnings (consider the entire thing to be a trigger warning before you move forward). Beyond all else, what is most uncomfortable about Kenneally’s work is the fact that every word is true. Not only were orphanages mistreating children in the early twentieth century, but some existed as late as the 1970s, causing generations of trauma to innocent children. 
Kenneally’s work primarily focuses on St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Vermont, USA, but she also includes Mont Providence Orphanage in Quebec, Canada and a few others scattered throughout the continent. The savage treatment is similar throughout the homes, and the complete disregard and lack of caring from the diocese and those who serve it, seems to ignore national borders. 
“Ghosts” will have readers rethinking their idea of generational trauma, and Kenneally quotes professionals who provide background into how trauma manifests and how, in some cases, it led to the children not being believed. It is not surprising in 2023 that priests, nuns and other religious “figures” are no longer the saintly role models they were made out to be generations ago, but Kenneally’s story examines an even darker side of the Catholic church and its representatives that will leave readers with a lump in their throat. 
As a Canadian, we are just becoming privy to the full extent of the damage done to children (especially Indigenous ones), as more and more unmarked graves are revealed across the country. Although this revelation in itself is horrifying, the savagery and hardship thrust upon these children while they were alive, portrayed honestly through Kenneally’s upfront words, is next level. 
“Ghosts” is not an easy read by any means, but it is so crucial and poignant, that its subject matter needs to be spread far and wide. Although the orphanage system has finally been abolished and the current foster care system in its place (which has its own flaws that I won’t get into here), “Ghosts” will open readers’ eyes to a world many closed their eyes too for years.
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This story details the abuse, sexual assaults and murders that took place in St. Joseph's Orphange in Australia. It also lets the reader know that these abuses were not singular to this orphange but were common place at orphanges run by the Catholic Church.. Nuns and priests in that time were allowed to use corporal punishment as they felt necessary and many went above and beyond the definition of the word. What I was able to read of this story was heartbreaking and very hard to read. I commend the author on attempting to bring these stories to light and I can only imagine the strength it took to hear and write about them. The rating assigned is based simply on the fact that I was unable to finish the book due to the intensity of the childrens stories and not a reflection on the author and their story telling ability.
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This was a dark one. I simply cannot comprehend what these literal children went through at a place that was supposed to care for them. And for what? What was the reason? (Obviously there is no good reason, but I'd like to hear the delusional one anyway.)

TBH I didn't totally know what was going on or where we were going until Act II. Act I felt a little all over the place, and I wasn't sure if we were sticking to one location or many, if things were related or not. I think chapter/act titles would have helped organization-wise. Otherwise, the chapter breaks didn't all necessarily make sense. 

Also - I realized that I don't understand how orphanages worked. A bunch of these kids had parents that either visited or still claimed them so they couldn't be adopted?? S. didn't leave till she was in her twenties, because they simply wouldn't let her??
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This book contains some astounding, heartwrenching stories-- stories that SHOULD be told, and stories that the author clearly cares very deeply about telling. Unfortunately, I found the structure of the book impossible to decipher; I never knew where we were going, or where the stories were leading us. This was quite disappointing, as there is so much here that is worth hearing, and Keneally has clearly done her homework.
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Years and years of violence, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse, and death have taken place in orphanages. In Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, a Conspiracy of Silence, and a Search for Justice focuses on not only St. Joseph’s, a Catholic orphanage in Vermont, Kenneally but on other orphanages in other countries as well.

The author tells the stories of survivors who tell not only of their experiences but of those of the children who did not survive. She shows the courage and quest for justice. She details horrific abuse and even murder. She also shows the strength and courage of the survivors.

This is a true crime book that details the age of crimes against children in orphanages. I was horrified that most of the overwhelming abuse done by nuns but of the coverup as well. The author did a massive amount of research and interviewing of survivors.

This is not an easy book to read. It's heartbreaking and sad. It's also well written, informative and I enjoyed hearing about the survivors and their lives after leaving the orphanage they were in.

Thank you to PublicAffairs and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
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An extremely well researched, very sensitive deep dive into the abuses perpetrated on children at Catholic orphanages, the efforts of the Church and local/regional governments to cover up the abuses, and the lifelong impact of both the abuses and the cover-ups on the survivors. Christine Kenneally has done incredible work bringing these stories to light in a way that isn't salacious or sensational. This should be required reading for anyone entering the fields of social work, victim advocacy, or the areas of law that deal with the pursuit and prosecution of sexual predators.
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I think Christine Kennelly Wrote about with respect to the victims alive and dead. It seem to me being just a reader that it was a hard book to write because she was waking up all monsters and wanting the victims of those monsters speak about it and although some found it therapeutic some had a hard time with it  but she respected everyone’s wishes and I think did a wonderful job with this book. You will definitely need tissues as it is not a happy story and although somewhere happy endings that definitely wasn’t the status quo for the victims of the orphanages. The office research on the topic seems to be exhausting and she is done her due diligence. In every chapter it seems we need a new person who lived through the orphanage system weather in America, Australia, Canada in as far away as Ireland and Scotland. It seems no matter where the orphanage was abuse was par for the course in weather it was sexual or physical no one got out unscaved and without emotional or physical marks but sadly the most egregious abuse had no personal advocate just eyewitnesses because they were the ones who went missing. It is the things that nightmares are made of in their mini still alive they can attest that because they still wake up in the night haunted by the ghost of friends and or nameless children they shared a home with that one time. Christine Kennelly spoke to supposed experts on the topic that didn’t believe it so how could she an author and a reporter give credence to such that thirdly deeds… Like any good author she researched it and found proof and although it won’t send anyone to jail it was enough to know that these peoples remembrances were valid. even if they got out with the life some with strip of basic information such as their name their birthday in their whole heritage. This is a sad tale with so many victims that finally can have a version of their story told and I think the author did a wonderful job. I highly recommend this book the even sadder story about this book though is that most of this was done by people who took bowels to live by the Bible and yet did everything put that in during the abuse of children were still brought to mass insert to confession it really is such a sad sad story all of it. I received this book from NetGalley and a publisher but I am leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.
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Ghosts of the Orphanage tells the stories of those who suffered abuse at the hands of nuns, priests and other orphanage workers.  It is thoroughly researched and documented. It was a struggle for me to finish, as it was a bit all over the place rather than chronological.
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Thank you to Netgalley for this advanced reader copy. This book was definitely a tough read but I loved how deep it delved into the lives of the children who were placed into orphanages. I enjoyed how the author used experiences from different people from different orphanages to show that the experiences they faced were not just faced in one place but all over.
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