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A Mother's Promise

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Member Reviews

I love books based on fact.
This one is based on a landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decision.
In the 1920's Virginia a young woman Ruth Ann Riley, a victim of rape is forced into an institutional because of poverty and her subsequent pregnancy.
Poverty was a big issue back then and still continues to be.
Those living in poverty were wards of the state in this case wards of the state of Virginia . Living in an institution means the women are labeled feeble minded and have no say in their lives.
Reading this book prepare yourself to feel sad and appalled at the treatment of these women.
Ruth Ann is a woman who despite all the odds stacked against her in life she is determined for the sake of her daughter to never give up her fight.
This book moved me to tears!
I am definitely looking this case up to learn more about it.

Pub Date: 19 Jan 2021
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you.
All opinions expressed are my own.
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I've read a couple books about this general theme of unwed young women having their rights taken away but none were quite as touching and emotional as A Mother's Promise. It is a difficult read, to hear about how these women are treated and what Ruth Ann has to go through. I think a big part of the reason this book is so amazing is that Ruth Ann is such a wonderful and inspiring character, K.G Alden has done such an incredible job of portraying this story which is inspired on a true case. There are many wonderful characters woven into this story and the plot is quick which made it a real page turner. The author did extensive research on the case that she based this book on and there is more information on it at the end of the story, a detail I always appreciate when the authors include. Stories like this always touch my heart and this book will stay with you for a long time.
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I dedicate this post to International Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, for reasons that will shortly become evident. 

A Mother's Promise is a historical fiction novel, based on a U.S. Supreme Court Case Buck v. Bell 1927, in which, Albert Priddy, superintendent of the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded, recruited legislator Aubrey Strode, in order to draft a state sterilization law. On the 20th of March 1924, the Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act was signed into law. Cary Buck, became the first person sterilized under this law. Alden's book is a fictionalized version of Cary Buck's story. 

In bringing the Virginia Sterilization Act into existence, Dr. Priddy was able to legally sterilize anyone he, as a medical practitioner, deemed "a burden on society", preventing them from passing on these burdens to future generations. That is, he put into place the legal practice of Eugenics.

So how does this overlap with International Holocaust Memorial Day 2021? In order to get the law enacted Dr. Priddy relied on Aubrey Strode. Strode wrote his legislation based on a model law drafted by the biologist Harry Laughlin, who was the director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Eugenics Record Office (an epicenter for research in the field) and perhaps the most influential advocate for eugenics in the country. Here is the tie-in to the Holocaust:

"Laughlin corresponded with German eugenicists and was enthusiastic about Hitler's leadership praising him for realizing that "the central mission of all politics is race hygiene". He was also the driving force behind the Immigration Act of 1924, which set quotas on various undesirable races, including Jews. He urged maintaining these quotas when, not many years later, large numbers of Jews were trying to flee Europe. One could only immediately think of the SS St. Louis, a ship full of Jews turned away from landing in Cuba and then the United States and Canada, only to have to return to Europe.

I do not intend to detract in any way from Cary Buck's story and all the people who were legally sterilized under laws like the Virginia Sterilization Act, The practice was finally ended nationwide (US) in the seventies (law was repealed in 1974). How many lives would have been different (and spared), if not for the collaboration of Harry Laughlin, Albert Priddy, Aubrey Strode and Hitler?

Thank you  #netgalley and K.D. Alden for my copy of #amotherspromise in return for my honest review. I am so glad I read this book, #5stars
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Heartwrenching, insightful, and incredibly absorbing!

A Mother’s Promise is a poignant, compelling tale that sweeps you away to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded during 1927 and delves into the daily lives, anxiety and true horrors experienced by those young women and men deemed unfit to procreate and thus denied parental rights of any children they may already have had and in turn also forcibly sterilized.

The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are genuine, sympathetic, vulnerable, and lovable. And the plot is a beautifully written, poignant tale about life, loss, love, heartbreak, courage, hope, manipulation, power, corruption, ethics, morality, motherhood, and the unconscionable theory of eugenics.

Overall, A Mother’s Promise is an emotional, heartbreaking, masterfully woven tale by Alden that immerses you so thoroughly into the lives, feelings, and personalities of the characters you never want it to end. It is without a doubt going to be one of my favourite novels of the year and it really shouldn’t be missed.
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A Mother’s Promise by K.D. Alden is an emotional story about how far a mother would go to get her baby back and stand up for herself.

After a teenage pregnancy, Ruth Ann is sent to an institution for the feebleminded. Ruth Ann is trying to find a way to get her baby, Annabel, back. Then, Ruth Ann finds out she is going to be sterilized soon so won’t be able to have any more children. All Ruth Ann has ever wanted is to have a family. A lawyer approaches her to help her fight for the legal right to prevent the doctor from sterilizing her. Ruth Ann makes friends and figures out who she can trust while fighting for her freedom.

I loved A Mother’s Promise. My only problem with it was that I didn’t want to put it down. A Mother’s Promise is emotional and thought provoking. Reading about what Ruth Ann is going through because she is labeled as “feebleminded” is heartbreaking. As the story goes on the reader finds out Ruth Ann is more intelligent than anyone gives her credit.  Ruth makes friends along the way. Ruth Ann doesn’t give up even when everyone tells her to. She is always looking for a solution. Clarence is a great friend to Ruth Ann. He will do anything for her without worrying about the consequences. Glory is a kind person that is trying to be there and help Ruth Ann from the moment they meet. Glory and Ruth Ann both are lonely so I enjoyed watching their friendship develop. A Mother’s Promise is about a difficult concept that seems crazy now but was normal in the past. I had so much empathy for Ruth Ann and all of the characters in A Mother’s Promise. Alden did a great job developing realistic characters with flaws but don’t give up or lose hope. I highly recommend A Mother’s Promise.

Thank you Forever Publishing and NetGalley for A Mother’s Promise.
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This is not an easy story to digest, but is a must read.  The subject matter is difficult and that it is based loosely on a true story of one of so many women who were tortured/treated with such disregard is important to never forget.  These horrors happened not all that long ago and if we fail to remember it we are destined to repeat it.  Ruth Ann becomes pregnant after being raped and when no one believes her “story of being raped”  she is sent to the Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and Feebleminded.   That is just the beginning of her long often horrifying journey. She has a spirit that is truly astonishing.  She is judged as having little mental capacity or moral fiber she is scheduled to be sterilized so as to not produce any one with “flawed genetics”.  She is a sweet lovely girl who though they’ve dubbed her feeble minded is smart enough to know that what is happening to her and others like her is deeply horrifyingly wrong.  And so after her child is taken away from her she decides to fight back.  It is an arduous and wrenching road that leads her to amongst other things the U.S. Supreme Court.  It is based on the case Buck vs Bell.  The author have shown is much care, respect and concern for the women this story represents, both real and imagined.  More than any of them experienced in their lives.  Its an emotional and difficult read, but it was truly worth the time and many gasps I experienced while reading.  It wasn't a quick pass the time get away from reality kind of read so prepare to go through myriad feelings.  It is a deep emotional story.
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Very intriguing book about forced sterilization of people in the early 1900’s. This book is based on a true story and the author does a great job enlightening the reader about the true story and also where facts were changed to fit the story. I think this is book everyone should read to become aware of this terrible practice that is still legal today.

The writing is excellent. It draws you in and you can’t help but keep reading this heartbreaking story.
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Thank you NetGalley,  K.D. Alden, K.D. Alden and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for the ARC of A Mother’s Promise. This is my personal review.
This is a book that is based on a U.S. Supreme Court Decision. 
I could not get this story out of my head long after I finished reading it.  K.D.Alden was able to write this heartbreaking yet courageous  story telling us about Ruth Ann Riley and her promise to her daughter.
I recommend that this story be read by everyone and to know it is based on fact and one of the best historical fiction stories that touched me deeply.
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This story is based on a real Supreme Court case, and for that, it is extra heart breaking.

I knew nothing about this book until I stumbled upon it on NetGalley. Something about the description made me want to read it. Maybe because of the true story aspect, or the historical fiction aspect, I'm not sure, but both intrigued me.

Ruth Ann, the main character in this story is fighting to keep her body her own and not have someone else determine what should be done with it. It is truly heartbreaking to think that sterilization happened to young women and girls, and still does in certain places. Ruth Ann shows strength, courage and determination in her quest. She doesn't give up on it, or herself.

I enjoyed the writing, the characters and they story itself. It had many fascinating pieces and taught me more about something I was aware of, but not too familiar with.

This book should be handled with care and understanding, but it also needs to be read. The author did her work with the research and portrays the feelings and thoughts in a very tangible way.
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This is a story that came about from a true happening, and when you finish this page turner story, be sure to read the author’s notes!
The horrors perpetrated in this story are true, and as you read in the book description it is based on a real Supreme Court Case.
Your heart will break for Ruth Ann, how wrong and small minded this doctor and lawyer are, and the victim’s can do nothing to stop what happens to them.
This is a book that is going to linger and one you will be taking about, so much injustice and power, but be aware this law is still on the books and it is perfectly legal.
I loved that we are given epilogue, and we continue with Ruth Ann’s life and how this story played out!
I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Forever, and was not required to give a positive review.
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There are some books that you can't stop thinking about when you close the book, and the characters and ideas of the book stay with you long after you read it - this is one of those books for me.  I was amazed that this was K.D. Alden's debut novel, her storytelling is incredible.  I have recently been shying away from books with difficult topics and having a hard time reading, but this book drew me in and wouldn't let go.  It was about a difficult subject matter, but the incredible storytelling and brave characters made it interesting to read instead of depressing.  Every time I started reading I was instantly drawn in and saw myself sitting there with the characters walking through life with them, my heart breaking with theirs as things happened to them. I loved that information about the real life supreme court case that this book was based off of, was included at the end.  I have so much more I would love to say about this book, but I am not sure I can without spoiling the story. So I'll just say that I can't wait to see what books K.D. Alden writes in the future.  I received an ARC of this book on Netgalley, and this is my honest review.
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A Mother's Promise is an amazingly heartbreaking book that shines a light on a dark unspoken part of history in the America, the eugenics movement. While this novel is based on a true court case the author takes liberties to enhance and almost soften an ugly truth. It is well done! Staying true to the nightmare that Carrie Buck (Buck Vs. Bell) actually lived.

Set in early 1900's Virginia being poor, uneducated, or teenager pregnant out of wedlock is considered an undesirable offense.  Ruth Ann is all three of these. Her punishment is being sent to a state home for the epileptic and feebleminded where her mentally unstable mother also resides. 

Hidden away from polite society Ruth Ann and the other patients are subject unending physical labor and abuse by the house mother and unauthorized medical procedures by Dr. Price, who is looking to make a name for himself in the medical community. The good doctor has convinced himself that for the greater good that the degenerates of society must not be allowed to reproduce. That the sins of the mother pass down to her offspring. And as a garden must be weeded so must humanity. Lucky for Dr. Price Ruth Ann, her lunatic mother, and infant daughter provide the perfect case study of  three generations of immorality. A case study that he plans to take to the highest court in order to set a precedence for the legalization forced sterilization of the undesirable population.

All the while, Ruth Ann is none the wiser to the larger plan she is the center of. Her only desire is see and hold the daughter that was taken away from her at birth. She knows her former foster family is now in custody of the baby and, along with her few friends, plans away reunite with her child. The only child she will ever have if the courts rule in favor of Dr. Price.
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I am amazed that this is a debut novel, then again the subject matter is based on a true story and Ms. Alden tells Ruthie's story with heart. This was such a poignant and engrossing tale of a mothers love and the dreams we hold dear to our hearts. I love how Ruthie learns about herself along the way and has such a profound sense of self and self worth.

K.D. Alden is a master story teller and it was impossible not to get swept up in this beautifully told tale. My heart was broken for Ruthie and ALL the women who had to go thru the procedure. I definitely recommend reading this book. It was brilliantly written, it’s a book you want to savour. This book weighs on your mind and your soul. The author is a whiz with words. I was living this with these children/women and because of the feelings this book evoked in me it deserves all the stars.
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This is a well written book that will keep you turning the pages to see what what happens next. It's a heartbreaking story about how unwed mother's were treated 1920's. You will need a box of tissue close by as you are reading Ruth Ann's story. The author did an excellent job of weaving fact with fiction. If you like Historical Fiction you will love this book. Thank you Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
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A Mother's Promise by K.D. Alden is not an easy book to read, especially when you consider it is based on events which happened in our country many years ago.
In 1927, Ruth Ann became pregnant due to a rape.  She was sent to a "home" for unwed mothers and meets other women like her. Unwed, pregnant women were considered to be feeble minded and have loose morals so the "home" would take the babies away at birth and force the mother's to be sterilized.
What makes this book more horrifying to me is it is based on the case of Bell v. Buck, a real life court case. Be prepared to be saddened and angry as you read the story of a young woman who fights for her child and her rights to have more babies.
Thank you to NetGalley and Forever for an ARC in exchange fro a fair review.
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The Eugenics movement was perverted Progressivism in the first part of the 20th century. A Mother's Promise is based on Buck v. Bell which supposedly challenged the forced sterilization laws. It's a disturbing  read, but one based on facts. I liked Ruth Ann. She was gutsy and tenacious. Clarence was a real sweetheart. I did enjoy the scene between Mother Jenkins and Sheila. I liked Sheila too, a woman labeled just because she came from the school of hard knocks. Alden provides historical background and context at the end.
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This is a totally stunning historical fiction story about how unwed mothers were treated in the 1920s. The author clearly spent a lot of time researching this subject. Institutionalized because they were unwed mothers, the girls were deemed feeble minded, and not treated well. This was not always an easy book to read, and I can’t begin to imagine how hard it was to write.  However, it is an excellent book. I recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.
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This is not an easy read, certainly not saying it is not a good book, it is a great book. But the content and the eye-opening truth and injustices done is unsettling. The story is based upon true events in the early 1900’s, starting in 1927. I have read several books on the lack of oversight in orphanages and homes in the early years and each one of them has shown deplorable conditions. This one is no exception.
I cannot give the author enough praise on how she wrote the narration of Ruth Ann. She could not have done it any better, she truly lets you understand how Ruth Ann felt, the loneliness, despair and helplessness in an unfair world. I highly recommend. Well done! 
I was given the opportunity to read an ARC from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) and NetGalley for my honest unbiased review. I give this one 5 stars.
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I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading A Mother's Promise. Such a compelling read!

It is about a very dark period in the 1920's when a young girl, Ruth Ann, was sent to The Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and Feebleminded. Ruth Ann had the misfortune of being pregnant (as a result of rape) and as a young, unmarried girl this caused her to be sent to this “home”. Ruth Ann was judged as having very little mental capacity or moral fibre. And, because of this, she was scheduled to be sterilized in order to not reproduce any offspring of similar “flawed genetics.” 

The hardships and abuse of the residents in this home is very hard to read about. Ruth Ann is adept at letting her mind escape during the abuse. But when her sterilization procedure is scheduled, she shows the reader how smart and resourceful she can be. Even at her young age she understands that it simply is not right that she be sterilized against her will. 

I love Ruth Ann......so much intelligence even though she only got to grade 6. She is resilient, loving, vulnerable, imaginative and diligent. I think she is one of my favourite characters I have ever encountered in a book. 

The book is both character and plot driven, a combination I love. So many unique characters besides Ruth Ann. Good characters and bad ones. The plot is horrifying and interesting at the same time.

The story is loosely based on the case Buck vs Bell. The author did extensive research on the case and changed a few things to suit Ruth Ann and the story better. The changes are explained at the end of the book, as is the case Buck vs Bell.

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for providing me with an Advance Readers Copy.
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This book based on a true story is truly heartbreaking. It's 1927 and Ruth Anne is unwed and pregnant. She is sent away to an institution with other unwed mothers.. After the babies are born, they are taken away from the mothers and the mothers are deemed feeble minded and the girls are sterilized. Most of the girls are in the institution are in their predicaments because of rape. Ruth Ann wants to keep her daughter Annabelle and doesn't want her chance of having other children taken away from her. This was a heartbreaking book made so by knowing it was based on a true story. I loved Ruth Ann's courage and her fighting spirit! I received an advanced readers copy and all opinions are my own.
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