Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

The real-life Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls is the setting of this fictionalized story addressing the lives of unwed mothers and their children around the turn of the 20th century. Jumping between the story of Cate, a librarian and archivist researching the home in 2018, and several women who lived there between its founding in 1903 and its closure in 1935 (it was reopened briefly as an orphanage in 1936 but only remained in operation until 1942), the story is largely one of female discovery and empowerment. While there are several men in the story, the only constant male presence is J.T. Upchurch, the Methodist reverend who established the home with his wife Maggie Mae as a form of missionary work. Modern day Cate finds that she's fascinated by the home, specifically two women, Mattie and Lizzie (both based on real women who were residents of the home) and she and her young friend Laurel provide a parallel commentary on women and their choices. The story focuses mainly on day to day life; none of the women upon whom the book focuses wonderful blood relatives and another charming element of the story is the way each finds her own family with those she chooses. 

I find that I do have to agree with another reviewer who found Cate's story a little bit distracting from the story of the home. I found some elements of it effective and engaging, but the story of her childhood love seemed an unnecessary aside; its a bit as though Cate was a possible protagonist for another novel but Kibler couldn't come up with enough of an engaging story to feature her alone and instead wedged her into this one. Despite that I did find the novel engaging and enjoyed the read. 

I received this novel as a digital ARC from Netgalley and Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review
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Calling Me Home is one of my all time favorite reads, so I was thrilled to be approved for Julie Kibler’s much-anticipated second novel. 
Unfortunately, this one was very difficult for me to get through, for a variety of reasons. 
I’ll start with my own personal issues with it: I am very bothered by abuse/death of children in books. I stay away from it if I can help it. In the beginning of this book, a sick toddler dies. Despite my trepidation, I kept reading. Later, there is mention of sexual abuse of children. A prevalent theme throughout is sexual abuse and violence towards women. 
Secondly, I found the back and forth timeline of the book to be messy and unnecessary. The second timeline - taking place in 1999 and 2017 - didn’t seem to add much of anything to the story. Cate’s sections didn’t fit and were clunky, and the “twist” seemed forced. 
The subject matter - the treatment of “fallen” women at the beginning of the 20th century and this very real home that took them in - is fascinating and deserves to be recognized. I just wish that this topic had been handled a little better by this novel. I also recognize that this novel, due to my own personal issues with some of the themes, was not for me.
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In the early 1900's, Lizzie and Mattie met at the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls.  In the present day, Cate, a librarian, stumbles across a cemetery, with a placard for the Berachah Home.  She uncovers an archives outlining the home's history, and shares this knowledge with a younger student.

I was a bit disappointed with this book.  None of the characters seemed to have much of a personality.  They all blended together after a while.  The present day story line was completely unnecessary and did not add anything to the story.  Overall, a bust.
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The authors first book, Calling Me Home moved me in ways I couldn't believe. In this second novel, this moved me in a different way. I don't want to compare at all cause each are such different subjects.
Here we learn from three different perspectives, Lizzie, Maddie and Cate. Lizzie and Maddie are from the Past and Cate is in present time. Each character offered insight to lives some women are faced on a daily basis. I am very grateful that I didn't have to endure any of these hardships whether great or small. The author pulls you in from the beginning with these well developed characters that you want to know their back story. There was one storyline that had my jaw dropping. I called it a PLOT TWIST. Did not catch that at all! I felt my heart racing in anxiety for these women and the struggles. At the end I felt like some things were unanswered, Like whatever happen to her baby? Is that her baby grown up? Although I like things at the end nice and neatly wrapped up, I still felt this was a heart wrenching story to make you think. Now I want to visit the graveyard of these real people.
Thank you to the Publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. These are my thoughts and opinions.
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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. 

5 stars
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The subject matter of this historical novel is compelling, the characters are interesting, and the writing style is generally good.  But I didn't feel that the story moved along well.  It was very repetitive and I found myself skipping through most of the book just to find out what happened.  I will not recommend this book.
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I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  
Thanks NetGalley!

I'm likely not the right audience for this book/review, as this isn't a genre i'd normally pick up.   i was intrigued by the title and cover though. 

The book shows the differences in how women were treated  and tossed to the side in the 1900s and hwo they're treated in the 1980s.   unwed pregnant women were sent to the "home" in the 1900s.     

This historical fiction would be a great read for anyone interested in the above.
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Loved, loved, loved this book!!

Once in a while, you come across a book that strikes a chord with you. One that settles in that space in your heart that is damaged or vulnerable; one that feels familiar. Home for Erring and Outcast Girls is one such book for me.

Julie Kibler weaves a story with many layers. Home for Erring and Outcast Girls brings to light the grievous treatment of women in the early 1900's. Women who were objectified and treated as worthless simply because they found themselves outside the socially-acceptable norm; women who were cast aside and left to fend for themselves, many dying as a result. The story shows the parallels between this time period and the 1980's, and although less extreme, that these prejudices were still widely present.

Mattie and Lizzie formed an unshakable friendship born from similar hardships. Mattie left pregnant by her beau; Lizzie pregnant by her stepbrother. Both girls thrown out by their families, and left to take care of their babies alone, on the streets. They both did despicable things to survive, until they found the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls, a safe haven for women who found themselves morally astray.  

Berachah helped young women mend from their personal tragedies. They were supported financially, emotionally and spiritually, leading them back toward a more pure life. Mattie and Lizzie learned to love themselves again, and to trust in their abilities. Although their bond was strong, Mattie felt an increasing desire to make it on her own. She set out to build a life outside Berachah, one she could live on her terms, and her own way.

A hundred years later, Cate, a university librarian, comes across the archives of the Berachah Home and becomes enthralled with Mattie and Lizzie; their lives; their secrets. She throws herself into their stories; drawn by an inner tragedy of her own, a tragedy that separated her from her family and the love of her life. 

A beautiful story of tragedy and healing, Home for Erring and Outcast Girls gripped my heart and pulled me into the lives of these women in a plenary way. It's a stunning example of unwavering friendship, and the unconditional love a mother has for her child. 

It was truly an eye-opening experience to learn that this novel is based on the lives of real women named Mattie and Lizzie, and their time at Berachah, which really existed and helped many women during this time in history. It truly made me love the story even more, causing these women to linger in my heart.
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Beautifully written this is a story about girls who are sent to a home for those who have become pregnant among other things. It was an interesting look at life in a different time. I think fans of historical fiction will enjoy this.
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This book is the story of unwed, pregnant woman In the 1900 and the troubles they faced. It was an interesting way to see how much the world has evolved since then!
A nicely written story with memorable character
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In the early 1900's in Texas, there was a home named Berachah Home that would house and help young unwed mothers. They didn't take your children, they truly tried to help the young women. In this home, we meet Lizzie and Mattie. They become best friends with shared traumatic pasts. In present time, we meet Cate. She is a librarian who does research on Berachah House. Both timelines, tell the stories of strong, amazing women. I really enjoyed this book and its characters. I received an advanced readers copy and all opinions are my own.
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A sad but moving look at life for poor young women and children in turn of the 20th century Texas. It also has a overlapping story that takes place in current time.  Well written it maintains the readers interest from beginning to end.
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Super good book. Loved the compare and contrast of the treatment of modern day unwed mothers and those of the past. Highly recommend for lovers of historical fiction.
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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 wrote both novels in a very distinct way. She introduced several characters and told some of their stories in the 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 capture so many meaningful and controversial times in our country's history and bring them to life 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 to the Berachah  Home for  the Redemption and Protection for Erring Girls in 1904. Each one of them 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 2 year old son to the same illness she was experiencing. 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 on even when Mattie chose to leave Berachah Home and go to Oklahoma.. Mattie and Lizzie's stories were revealed through the research of present day librarian, Cate Sutton who worked as head librarian in Arlington, Texas at the University of Texas. The college was in close proximity to where the Berachah Home used to stand and Cate had access to the Berachah Home archives to carry on her research.. 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 and injustice. 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.
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I waited so long for this authors next book after falling in love with her first Calling Me Home. I enjoyed Home for Erring and Outcast Girls. Try to even imagine what it would be like early 1900’s for women. Single, pregnant. Most of the time by no fault of their own. It’s a time when woman didn’t always have a voice and was heard. The hardness of life. The kindness that comes in very unexpected places. I expecting strangers. This would make an amazing movie. I felt like I was there with the girls.  Thank you for this book.
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I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, publisher and Netgalley.com. Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review.

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls is an emotional story set in two timelines. Two women in "trouble", unmarried and with children live in a christian home where they are not separated from each other. Modern-day librarian uncovers their story while trying to figure out her own life.  Verbose at times, but worth the wait to get to the purpose of the story. 

4 out of 5 stars.
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Wow, this was an addictive read about a little known period of history. I really enjoyed this!
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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A fascinating book!
Knowing that so much of it is based on real incidents seems to make it all the more intriguing. 
As we read we can observe the kindness of some people as well as the callousness of others, and, perhaps worst of all, the indifference of so many.
We can also see how it indicates that the responsibility and guilt the pregnant and unmarried women must bare in society with almost no blame or obligation for the fathers.
  The main setting is the Berachah Home, a huge building in Arlington,Texas, where  mothers with babies and those expecting babies, impoverished and desperate are welcomed and cared for as long as it is needed. There is much love and friendship shared by residents and staff.
The three main characters are women who become friends at the home and then go on their way when their time is finished. 
It continues telling how each copes with their new lives and the adversities of life and  learning to fight truth and acceptance into society.
Thank you to our author for her thorough research in bringing a small irrelevant, but treasured piece of history to literary life. Well done!
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Do you ever wish that you would stumble upon something from the past that sends you on an adventure? That’s what happens in Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler. Told in the present/past points of view, the story centers around Cate, a librarian who discovers a cemetery and takes an interest in learning about what happened to the people buried there. She finds out about the Berachah Home, a place that gave shelter to homeless women and unwed mothers.


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.

I liked learning about the home for these young women, it’s interesting to read about places like the Berachah Home. The characters are very sympathetic and well written, this is a great piece of historical fiction.

Due out July 30.
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I loved Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home, so I was really excited to read her second book. The story switches between Cate in present day and two girls from the Home for Erring and Outcast Girls, Lizzie and Mattie. Reading about the Home was interesting. It was run by a family who believed in keeping unwed mothers and their children together—which went against the norm for that time. 

While I usually love stories that switch between past and present, the characters felt completely disconnected. Cate’s storyline felt forced and like it was put into the story with the sole purpose of making the author’s point (on what, you can read yourself to find out if you wish).
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