Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman ~ My Thoughts @EllenMarieWise #TheLostGirlsOfWillowbrook @KensingtonBooks

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Historical Fiction, 304 pages
Published August 30, 2022 by Kensington Books

Fact, fiction, and urban legend blend in this haunting story about a young woman mistakenly imprisoned at Willowbrook State School, the real-life institution later shuttered for its horrendous abuses.

Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined.


My thoughts about The Lost Girls of Willowbrook ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"People still search the woods for the remains of lost children."

I became a huge fan of Ellen Marie Wiseman after reading The Orphan Collector. That story blew me away. I waited with baited breath for her next one. The Lost Girls of Willowbrook is also an amazing read.

Although the situations in this story are very disturbing, they were very real and show the circumstances that 'undesirable' children, and adults, had to endure. Wiseman brings the traumatic truths to life with the story of Sage and her twin sister, Rosemary. What the two girls had to endure is shocking but the same things happened to others, over and over. 

Woven into the story of life at Willowbrook is the mystery of what happened to Rosemary. As Sage tries to uncover the truth about her twin sister, she finds herself thrown into a world she never could have imagined. 

Like Wiseman's other books, this one opened my eyes to a world that I knew very little about and served as reminder that people need to be compassionate to all. Based on a true-life place, the Willowbrook State School, it is hard to imagine that people were treated like this. Thankfully the truth was uncovered and people's situations became better. 

Wiseman does a wonderful job of taking a very hard and disturbing time in our history and creating an enjoyable story that educates us all. I highly recommend The Lost Girls of Willowbrook.

I received a copy of The Lost Girls of Willowbrook from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion of the book.

About the author

A first-generation German American, Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in NYS. She is a New York Times Bestselling author whose novels have been translated into twenty languages. 

Her debut novel, The Plum Tree, is loosely based on her mother’s stories about growing up in Germany during the chaos of WWII. The Plum Tree received much praise for its depiction of WWII and was named by Bookbub as One of Thirteen Books To Read if You Loved All the Light We Cannot See. Ellen’s second novel, What She Left Behind, was named a Huffington Post Best Books of Summer 2015. Her third novel, Coal River, was called "one of the most "unputdownable" books of 2015" by The Historical Novel Review. Her fourth novel, The Life She Was Given, was named A Great Group Reads Selection of the Women’s National Book Association and National Reading Group Month, and a Goodreads Best of the Month for July. Her newest novel, The Orphan Collector, comes out on August 4th, 2020. 

Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband and two spoiled Shih-tzus, Izzy and Bella. When she’s not busy writing, she loves spending time with her children and grandchildren. Find Ellen on Facebook at: ~ Goodreads

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