Cover Image: Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

It's disappointing but this is one of those books where the description made me excited to read it but the actual book let me down. I barely finished it and ended up skimming the last 30% or so. 

I love historical fiction, particularly US historical fiction, so reading about the girls from the Berachah Industrial Home was something I thought was going to be right up my alley. Unfortunately, the book jumped around so much from 1917, 1933, 1998, and 2017 that it became difficult to follow. Lizzie and Mattie were in the past while Laurel and Cate were in the present but they lacked any discernable differences in personality. They felt very much like the same person with very minor changes. It was boring.

The storytelling was harsh. Every man in the book was an evil POS - molestation, rape, abuse, implied affairs. There wasn't a single man that I can recall that was even remotely acceptable. The author even implied that Brother JT (who ran the Berachah House) was unfaithful to his wife although there is no historical evidence to support such an implication. It just felt like the author was determined to make every male character out to be a bad person. She did the same thing with the church. I haven't been a church-goer in over 20 years and have no reason to defend the institution but I felt so much annoyance at the continual "Men are bad. Church is bad. Women are victims." message in the book that I could barely stomach reading it. 

I wanted to love it but I just don't.
Was this review helpful?
I liked the way this book found a common thread between several periods of time. Relatable characters. It dragged a little due to its length but the story was a memorable one.
Was this review helpful?
The concept of this book intrigued me as I love historical fiction mixed with a present day tie-in.  The Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls built in 1903 in Arlington, Texas provides the backdrop for the meeting of Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride.  Their shared situation brings the two women to forge a sisterly friendship that will stand the test of time and many other tribulations.  In present day, university librarian Cate Sutton uncovers information in the archives about the Berachah Home and its residents.  She feels drawn to these women and their stories, inspiring her to deal with issues from her past as well.  

I thought the stories of Lizzie and Mattie were so interesting and compelling.  The fact that this home actually existed that long ago and touched so many lives was inspiring.  I failed to connect as much with Cate and found her portion of the story somewhat of a distraction for me.  I couldn't connect the importance of her assistant Laurel's character with the narrative.  That said, I did enjoy the book but just felt more drawn to the historical component.  

I received this book courtesy of Crown Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler was a powerful and emotional read. I was moved by the stories of Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride. Their friendship was wonderful told and the painful struggles were so well written. I also loved the alternating timeline in this book and how Cate Sutton interacts with the stories of these two women. Powerfully moving. Highly recommend. 

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.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars! 

Emotional.  Informative.  Powerful.  Unforgettable.

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 captivated by both timelines and I loved all the characters equally yet uniquely.  They each has 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!
Was this review helpful?
Living in Arlington where this book is set, I felt a strong connection to the home and the characters.  I learned so much about this home and how it helped young women at the turn of the century escape bad situations and turn their lives around.  

While based on an actual place and actual residents of the home, the story is fiction but is well researched and could possibly have been what happened to these women.

I have loved everything this author has written and the amount of detail she provided in real places and events of the time.  I never would have guessed that I would enjoy historical novels as much as I do and want to know so much more.
Was this review helpful?
What an amazing read!!! So emotional and moving. I read this book late into the night many times, unable to put it down! 
My heart broke for Mattie and Lizzie,  cate and Laurel!!
Gripping from the first page to the last!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley, Crown Publishing and Julie Kibler foe free e-ARC in return of my honest review. 

What a roller coaster of “An emotionally raw and resonant story of love, loss, and the enduring power of friendship...” as the publisher puts it. I don’t often come across accurate description in one sentence but this one hit the spot. This is exactly what you, as a reader would feel. 

Two protagonists, Lizzie and Mattie, find themselves in a horrible situation. They are both young, have little children and no home and no income, Two “fallen” girls meet  in the middle of Texas in the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls for abused, poor, young mothers or pregnant girls, basically all lost female souls of Western America. You learn the story of horrific events that took place just because they were girls. Third protagonist is our time research-librarian, uncovering the story of Mattie and Lizzie in order to overcome her own trauma, rape and the church involvement in her situation. 

I think Julie Kibler raises a very important issue in uncovering these old stories. She talks about loss and the status of a girl in a household, about illegitimate children due to rape and domestic abuse. Your soul will cry when reading this book. Guaranteed. 

On the other hand, I fell like there one too many protagonists. Cate's story does connect with Lizzie and Mattie, but sometimes it was hard to follow all three of them at the same time. 

However, I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.
Was this review helpful?
Really interesting premise!  I thought the story had a lot of potential!  But I didn't like the modern day timeline.  I would have preferred for the story to be solely the historical timeline.  Thus, since I like 1/2 of the story 2.5 stars.
Was this review helpful?
I really wanted to love this book. I tended to drag in places and the jumping around from different characters got annoying after a bit. Loved the story line and characters but it was lacking something.
Was this review helpful?
This wasn't my favorite Julie KIbler book. I got confused between the timelines at some points and found much of the story to be slow-going. I connected to Lizzie and Mattie's story much more than Cate's which felt unnecessary and superfluous.
Was this review helpful?
Beautiful and powerful story. It was emotional and I will be recommending it to all my friends. Thank you netgally for a chance to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
I was fascinated by the "Home for Erring and Outcast Girls," which is a novel of historical fiction set in turn-of-the-century Texas at the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls, a place where women who would have otherwise been shunned by society could "rehabilitate" themselves. The home was a place where these women and their children could rebuild their lives without shame which was rare at the time and so important given that the circumstances these girls faced were often the fault of others. 

The story revolves around Mattie McBride and Lizzie Bates, two residents of the home, whose unlikely lifelong friendship endures loss, heartbreak and separation and provides them with the supportive, loving family they've never had from their actual kin. 

Meanwhile, the author also tells the parallel tale set in the current time of Cate Sutton, a university librarian who discovers the archives of the Berachah home and becomes obsessed with learning Mattie and Lizzie's stories. She develops an unusual friendship of her own with a student, Laurel, and they deal with issues of their own that have left them marginalized in ways that aren't all that different from those of Mattie and Lizzie 100 years before.

"Home for Erring and Outcast Girls" is the story of strong women who fight against forces trying to hold them back and the friends who help along the way.

Thank you to NetGalley, Crown Publishing and the author for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I recieved an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book and will recommend it often!
Was this review helpful?
The Home for Erring and Outcast Girls is a historical fiction/coming of age novel that goes back and forth between the early 1900s and the real life Barachah home and present day. Our protagonist from present day, Cate, has lived a life full of struggles that aren't all that different from the Erring and Outcast Girls of the 1900s.
Part of what I loved so much about this book was seeing the parallels between the girls of present day and the girls of the past. Seeing it plainly written on a page that women still have a lot to fight for when it comes to safety, security and acceptance. (I already knew all this, but if you're one of those people saying women have nothing left to fight for anymore, read this)
It was just so fascinating and heartbreaking reading about all of the girls in this book and their various struggles and triumphs and I was rooting for every. single. one of them. And then I found out that Mattie B and Lizzie were based on real people and their graves are at the Barachah home and I cried. I'm an emotional human but it was also just overwhelming because I had become so invested in them while I was reading this.
If you haven't noticed, this book has clearly struck a chord with me, and I think it'll sit with me for a while. 
If you are looking for a book that will make you think, a book that will enhance your appreciation for libraries and history, or simply a book that will get you out of your own head for a little while - this one is for you.
Was this review helpful?
The history related to in this book is a time that is seldom written about.  It was interesting to learn how hard it was to be a woman, with no respect and very little prospects at this time.  The feeling of "sisterhood" is great, yet the view of the "modern" women is a bit strange and feels a little disjointed.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed learning about the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls through this novel, but I struggled to connect the 2 narrators from the early 1900s with the present day one.  This may be why this historical novel dragged for me in some areas and went very quickly in others.  Overall, a read worth your time.  Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing a digital copy for review.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the sections of the story set in the early 1900's and the Berachah Home.  As with many books told in this format, I didn't enjoy the sections set in the current time nearly as much.  I would've preferred a story about the home only.
Was this review helpful?
The Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls was founded in 1903 on the outskirts of Arlington, Texas by Reverend James T. Upchurch and his wife Maggie May Upchurch. Inspired by this history, Julie Kibler brings to life the Berachah Home in Home for Erring and Outcast Girls in an emotional story about acceptance and about the family we find and introduces me to history I may never otherwise have learned. 

Read my complete review at 

Reviewed for NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Based on a real home for outcast women, this book brought to life a time period of 1900-1925, primarily. There were so few options for these non-wage earning women, especially when they became mothers at young ages. They were not bad girls; they were victims of circumstances who needed a hand up.

Mattie comes to the home, desperate to save her 2-year-old son who has an undiagnosed, chronic illness. Unfortunately, he doesn't survive, but Mattie comes into her own in the care of the home. She is befriended by Lizzie whose own story is heart-breaking. Estranged from her useless husband, Lizzie and daughter Docie end up the at the home after repeated homeless and abuse situations. 

The story follows Mattie and Lizzie in the 1910s, plus we have a modern story of a librarian/historian and her own sad, late teen years which lead to a split with her loving family.

The story jumps from past to present and several narratives are provided. However, each chapter is titled so that you know who are you encountering.
Was this review helpful?