The Girls We Sent Away

A Novel

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Pub Date Mar 05 2024 | Archive Date Mar 10 2024
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark | Sourcebooks Landmark


A searing book club read for fans of Ellen Marie Wiseman and The Girls with No Names set in the Baby Scoop Era of 1960s and the women of a certain condition swept up in a dark history.

It's the 1960s and Lorraine Delford has it all – an upstanding family, a perfect boyfriend, and a white picket fence home in North Carolina. Yet every time she looks through her father's telescope, she dreams of the stars. It's ambitious, but Lorraine has always been exceptional. 

But when this darling girl-next-door gets pregnant, she's forced to learn firsthand the realities that keep women grounded. 

To hide their daughter's secret shame, the Delfords send Lorraine to a maternity home for wayward girls. But this is no safe haven – it's a house with dark secrets and suffocating rules. And as Lorraine begins to piece together a new vision for her life, she must decide if she can fight against the powers that aim to take her child or submit to the rules of a society she once admired.

Powerful and affecting, The Girls We Sent Away is a timely novel that explores autonomy, belonging, and a quest for agency when the illusions of life-as-you-know-it fall away.

A searing book club read for fans of Ellen Marie Wiseman and The Girls with No Names set in the Baby Scoop Era of 1960s and the women of a certain condition swept up in a dark history.

It's the 1960s...

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ISBN 9781728257181
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Average rating from 233 members

Featured Reviews

So excited to have been a part of the ARC for this title!

Meagan Church's sophomore book The Girls We Sent Away is just as good, if not better than The Last Carolina Girl!

Lorraine Delford is a senior in high school and is on top of her game. She is on track to be the first female valedictorian of her school, has a great boyfriend, enjoys her job, and is part of a perfect family.... until she gets pregnant. To protect Lorraine's reputation her parents send her away to home for unwed teens. Lorraine has to learn how to navigate her new life, she struggles with rejection as she expects her boyfriend to support her and a desire to pursue her educational goals.

This book tackles a real emotion suffered by so many in 1960. Highly recommend you pick this one up!

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Church's eerie opening sent shivers down my spine. A teen girl in a stretched-out swimsuit is working her shift as a lifeguard at her community pool. As the strap to her swimsuit falls, it catches the eye of a father who has forgotten to keep an eye on his child. At this moment, his daughter begins to drown in the middle of the pool, and the fearless lifeguard, Lorraine, dives in to save her. It is as though Church is setting the scene for her reader that girls must protect themselves.

If you haven't heard of The Baby Scoop Era, this period, roughly from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, is when many unmarried pregnant women were often coerced, pressured, or forced to relinquish their babies for adoption. As widespread social stigma was attached to unwed mothers, many saw adoption as a more socially acceptable outcome than single motherhood.

This page-turner story, set in the 1960s, examines this era with fresh eyes as Lorraine, a gifted teen girl, navigates an unexpected pregnancy during her senior year of high school. Curious and bright, she has aspirations to be an astronaut one day. We are reminded in evocative detail of these dreams for her future as she looks to the sky and imagines a different life for herself as a very different story unfolds on the page.

When Lorraine discovers the pregnancy, she receives little information about what is happening in her body or the process. Instead, sent to a maternity home for teen girls, the parents pray that no one will ever know of her shameful secret. Lorraine's shame is palatable, but for the boy involved, this is barely a blip in his promising future.

As societal expectations and familial pressures ground Lorraine, Church examines the underbelly of perfect picket fences and suburban dreams. We then realize everyone has a shameful secret that could have grounded them at some point.

While these women's experiences varied widely during this time, many throughout this era faced isolation, shame, and psychological distress as they navigated the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and relinquishment. Church deeply humanizes this experience like few books have, with a raw and unfiltered lens through the eyes of a teen girl with few choices.

Well-crafted plot twists and shifting narration add to well-timed tension on every page. This historical fiction novel is another tour de force that showcases the author's magnificent lens at, once again, showcasing the harrowing and untold stories of girls that we need to read.

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As this book opens Lorraine Delford is all set to achieve her dreams, she is should be her class valedictorian, and then on to college, but her plans are about to take a nose dive.
This is a time that pregnant girls were sent away, and and gave away their babies. This is Lorraine's fate, and we are there with her and meet those that you will come to dislike, but there are also those whom have compassion and love.
There are surprises dropped, and we soon find out whom are really there for you, and those whom leave when things get tense.
I enjoyed this book, and glad that we get a conclusion, even if it wasn't what I wanted!
I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Sourcebooks Landmark, and was not required to give positive review.

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Lorraine is 17 years old, an excelling senior in high school and has high aspirations to become an astronaut. As an only child her parents are fairly controlling and Lorraine pretty much toes the line. But Clint, her boyfriend of two years, is going away to college and plans a romantic evening for the two of them before he leaves. Sadly for this young girl, she finds herself pregnant. This is as far as I’ll take it without giving away the story. Suffice to say, Lorraine is tested to the utmost regarding the choices she has to make in her life.
Sadly, in the ‘60’s, too many girls were taken to homes for unwed girls and the outcomes weren’t always favourable, for the girls or their babies.
When I chose to read this book I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was drawn in right from the beginning! An excellent read that I couldn’t put down.
Thank you to NetGalley, SOURCEBOOKS Landmark Publishers for my digital advanced copy. And to Meagan Church for her poignant read!

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"Strength isn't in the loud and obvious. Strength is often camouflaged in the quiet, reserved places where most people wouldn't think to look. It's grown in the moments when we give up things along the way."

I am still in a state of awe at this book after finishing this novel. Church's writing is beautiful and heartbreaking, as you follow Lorraine's transition from teen to teenage mother. I have a personal connection to someone who was a part of what Church notes as The Baby Scoop Era and this was an extremely visceral description of what a young unwed mother could have experienced during that time. The number of young women finding themselves in this situation is staggering, and is not as rare as some might like to believe.

I could not put this book down. Lorraine is an extremely likeable character and you can imagine yourself in her shoes; scared, humiliated, shamed by her family, secreted away, and then the ultimate betrayal of everyone telling you to just forget about what happened and get back to normal. Trauma is trauma and in this situation, the physical, emotional and mental impact was epic. And the quote above about strength being in the decisions you make that are in many cases behind closed doors, are the ones that make you into who you are. You carry those with you, and if you are lucky, they don't break you. Lorraine is an unfortunate example of what women have had to do for eons - shrink themselves, solely take on the consequences of two people's actions, and feel as though she had no choice but to do the things that would please everyone around her.

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