Wow. What a read.

Genevieve Graham‘s The Forgotten Home Child ($24.99, Simon & Schuster Canada) was a sad read, but a great one.

The book shares another terrible time in Canadian history, this time from 1869 to 1930s when more than 100,000 children were shipped from the U.K. to Canada to help Canadian families. The people of the U.K. didn’t want these children, who they considered dirty and diseased, and nor did many of the Canadian families who took them in, treating them like slaves, starving and abusing them.

While some children found great homes, many others didn’t and many died at the hands of the people who bought them for cheap farm labour and domestic help.

In this novel, Winny, her best friend Mary, Mary’s brother Jack, and their friends are separated from each other and suffer terribly at the hands of their employers.

The book starts in present day as we meet 97-year-old Winnifred Ellis who has kept her life a secret from her family.

“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 promised she made so long ago…”

The book flips between present and past as we learn Winny’s story and that of her group of friends.

I read the book over a course of a couple of hours. I knew a bit about the Home Children, and this part of Canadian history, but it was a hard read, even if this particular story was fiction. I know it was a different time, but it’s heartbreaking to think of U.K. Government shipping these children to Canada and the conditions they met when they arrived. A great read and an important one.

A copy of this book was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada
for an honest review. The opinions are my own.