From the author of Rust & Stardust comes this heartbreaking story, inspired by true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter.
Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.
But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.
For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.
My thoughts on this book:
This book captivated me from start to finish!
Very mild spoiler(s)
It’s 1969 and Ginny has just given birth to her second child, a baby girl with down syndrome. The moment she’s born, Ginny’s doctor tells her that she won’t be able to keep the baby, and that her baby will likely die within a few years from a heart condition or something else. Her husband wants to protect the family by sending the baby to a school for children with needs. Ginny doesn’t agree with her husband Abbott, but she feels she has no choice and all of it seems to be facilitated by her horrible, controlling, father-in-law. The baby is snatched away while everyone but Ginny seems to forget it ever happened. Over the next few years, life moves forward, but Ginny hasn’t forgotten about her daughter Lucy. It still eats at her as she continues to wonder about the condition of Lucy and if this was the right choice. She tries to be a satisfactory mom and wife regardless of all her concerns. In 1971 a report surfaces with claims that Willowridge–the school where little Lucy lives–has been neglecting the children. The report is horrible and parents have now filed lawsuits against the school. It rips at Ginny’s heart and she knows she has to make haste and get to the school to find out the condition of her daughter. Against her husband’s wishes, she heads on a trip with her friend Marsha to examine the conditions of the school and to check on Lucy. It turns out the report is true, and Ginny is shocked. She resolves that there’s absolutely no way she can allow Lucy to stay at Willowridge any longer. What will Ginny do? With no job and not much money, how can she fix this situation? How can she be the mother Lucy needs and still care for her six-year-old son without the support of her husband?
I felt so much emotion with this story because of how well-developed the characters were. I grew to really love Ginny after her character flourishes and she finally gets enough courage to stand on her own two feet. I could even relate to the in-law pressure. Marsha (Ginny’s best friend) was one of my favorites as well. She’s the kind of friend everyone wants, one who’s there when you need her, and one who would sacrifice anything for you. My only issue with her was her irresponsibility when it came to her reckless behavior. With that said, there were other characters in the story that I had extreme dislike for and even hate at times. I had to reluctantly put the book down more than once and ask myself repeatedly: What in the world is wrong with these people? It felt that real to me.
At times the book reminded me of one of my favorite movies Thelma and Louise, primarily because of Marsha. I couldn’t help but think about these two characters and how their ‘trip’ felt similar. I was on edge often, as the book just kept getting better and better. I was captivated and it felt believable. The writing has a sense of urgency to it and I just couldn’t stop until the end. I also loved that the author went back into the characters’ histories so that you learn about their family relationships from the beginning. This jumping back and forth between the present 1971 and their past kept it interesting and yet the story remained seamless.
My absolute only complaint with this book was the ending which felt really rushed after how drawn out the story was, however, I did appreciate the conclusion with how everything turned out. I was willing to overlook the rush, but it just seemed like a few of the characters have a change of heart in an instant–which isn’t impossible–just highly unlikely so quickly after how they’d been throughout their history. It was wrapped up so quickly after all that intensity and just seemed a tad too abrupt.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and think I may have found a new favorite author, even with this being my first book by T. Greenwood. I loved the articulate writing and how I was pulled in to this story. There’s nothing better than a book you simply can’t put down–one that you can’t wait to gush about to everyone. This is that book. I couldn’t resist spilling the entire story to my mom after I finished. With themes of love, friendship, courage, fear, family, and most of all, hope, this is a favorite for 2018!
Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for my honest opinions.
Thanks for reading my review. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.