The Home for Unwanted Girls meets Orphan Train in this unforgettable novel about a young girl caught in a scheme to rid England’s streets of destitute children, and the lengths she will go to find her way home—based on the true story of the British Home Children.
At ninety-seven years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left, and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. But when her great-grandson Jamie, the spitting image of her dear late husband, asks about his family tree, Winnifred can’t lie any longer, even if it means breaking a promise she made so long ago...
Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack, and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them.
But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again.
Inspired by true events, The Forgotten Home Child is a moving and heartbreaking novel about place, belonging, and family—the one we make for ourselves and its enduring power to draw us home.
About the author
Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in music in 1986 and began writing in 2007. She is passionate about breathing life back into history through tales of love and adventure and loves the challenge of re-living Canadian history in particular. Her previous novel, Tides of Honour, was a Globe and Mail bestseller. When Graham is not writing, she can be found relaxing with her husband and two grown daughters, teaching piano to children in the community, or tending the garden along with a friendly flock of heritage chickens. She lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit her at GenevieveGraham.com.
Excerpt: The Forgotten Home Child (by (author) Genevieve Graham)
“Graham has immense talent when it comes to making our nation’s history interesting and weaving a riveting story around historical facts.”
— Niagara Life Magazine
“[A] page-turner. . . . Graham writes about ordinary people living at important moments in Canadian history, from the displacement of the Acadians to the Yukon Gold Rush to the Second World War. In The Forgotten Home Child, she ensures the British Home Children are remembered and honoured.”
— Winnipeg Free Press
“Brings alive in the imagination the lives of what were once called Barnardo children—kids who came from England to Canada to be adopted into families here. While historically not all of the stories were positive, Graham evokes the experience of a groundswell of young immigrants from which many in this country are descended.”
— Toronto Star
“Drawing on a dark, yet little-known chapter in Canada’s history, Graham paints a searing portrait of a childhood shattered by isolation and brutality. I was profoundly moved by this tale of courage, fortitude, and the heart’s ability to open again in the wake of great injustice. The Forgotten Home Child is a powerful and engrossing read, brimming on every page with both heartbreak and hope.”
— ROXANNE VELETZOS, bestselling author of The Girl They Left Behind
Indigo’s most anticipated read of 2020
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“If there’s one thing that defines The Forgotten Home Child, it’s the essence of the past. In these pages, one family discovers the truth about their personal history and realizes that while our pasts are imperfect and multi-faceted, and can bind us or set us free, in the end, they inform our identity. Genevieve Graham captures the reader’s attention from the beginning in this exquisite journey to the heart of what makes us human.”
— ARMANDO LUCAS CORREA, bestselling author of The German Girl and The Daughter’s Tale
“The Forgotten Home Child is a poignant, edgy, and skillfully written portrayal of a Home Child’s experience that typified so many. The absence of any sugar coating makes this story come to life and brings a level of reality that is often lacking—an emotional journey well worth reading.”
— LORI OSCHEFSKI, CEO of the British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association
“Another gem from one of my favourite historical fiction authors! Graham reveals our past—both the shame and the hope of it—in the truest possible light. In doing so, she offers promise that the future can be changed by the telling of such important stories. This novel is heartbreaking yet romantic, distressing yet charming—and perfect for fans of Joanna Goodman and Jennifer Robson!”
— MARISSA STAPLEY, bestselling author of The Last Resort
“Graham . . . has crafted a sensitive, moving tale of a group of displaced children and their search for belonging on our shores. This little-known piece of our nation’s history couldn’t be in better hands.”
— Canadian Living