Friday, August 20, 2021

Review: No Names to be Given by Julia Brewer Daily

There are probably as many reasons for women to give their babies up for adoption as there are adopted children in the world. In the 1960s, with very few choices, unmarried young women, often quite young, could be sent off to a maternity hospital where they would live for months, give birth, and then relinquish their baby with no hope of ever seeing that child again. Then they'd be expected to resume their previous life as if nothing had happened to change them forever. Julia Brewer Daily, an adoptee herself, has written a story about three young women put in this impossible position in her novel No Names to be Given.

Sandy, Becca, and Faith meet as roommates at the Magnolia Home Hospital in New Orleans. They are three very different young women but all are unmarried and pregnant. They all give birth on the same day as the book opens, then jumping back in time to tell each of their stories and how they all ended up in a maternity hospital. Sandy, a talented exotic dancer, had an affair with a married mobster. Becca, a Southern debutante with an activist streak, went to college and fell in love with a black man. Faith, the innocent daughter of a famous evangelical preacher, was raped by a family friend, an employee of her father's. Their shared experience of having and giving up their babies marked them forever even if they had to keep those babies' existences a secret.

The novel is divided into three different sections: the young women's lives leading up to their pregnancies, the years when they go on with their lives always knowing that their children are somewhere out there, and the near present when they face blackmail and the potentially devastating revelation of their long held secrets. The chapters alternate between the three women and then later on include chapters focused on the children they gave up. Daily has done a good job showing the lasting impacts of adoption on both mothers and children, and the way that that impact can differ so widely depending on personality and circumstance. She touches on the different lives the children could go on to live--in loving homes, in foster homes, with the adopted child being considered an outsider, or neglected. She shows how the mothers are forever haunted by their children, even when their lives go on in successful ways. She also gives a hint of the way that commercial DNA tests have upended and exposed family secrets. There were several plot points that were too convenient and unbelievable. The story moved at a slow but steady pace for most of the novel but sped up to a shocking climax quite late in the book making the pacing a bit uneven. She raises the issues of abuse and racism but keeps both of these secondary to the adoption thread. What Daily captures beautifully was how the children given up for adoption were seemingly unacknowledged but, in truth, for the mothers, unspoken never meant forgotten. This is a book with heart, a look into the ways that shame and social mores dictated so many lives, and truth behind adoption in the 60s.

For more information about Julia Brewer Daily and the book, check our her author site, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book, and purchase here.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and publisher Admission Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds incredibly interesting, thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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