Genre: Historical Fiction; Family Life Fiction
Published by St. Matin’s Press
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Review Copy From: St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley
My Rating: 5
Synopsis (via GR)
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.
Warning: have plenty of tissues nearby!!
It’s 1969 and Ginny Richardson has just had an emergency C-section but doesn’t get to hold or see her newborn daughter, Lucy. The doctor explains that the baby has severe disabilities and should be institutionalized, which her father-in-law has already committed the baby to Willowridge School for both the baby’s and family’s sake.
But 2 years later, Ginny’s best friend informs her that the school has been the subject of an exposé that it the residents are treated poorly, is horrifically filthy and that the caretakers are less than desirable. Ginny, at this point, decides to visit the school and her daughter against the controlling and arrogant father-in-law’s decision. What she finds is unbearable. She decides to take Lucy, and with her BFF Marsha, go on the run for a week, hoping that her husband and his father, change their minds that Lucy needs to be part of their family and in their home. Only to find out, her father-in-law’s firm is representing the school.
This story touched me to my core as I have been involved in similar instances and the author nailed it!!!!
I mention similar events. When my sister was born with Cerebral Palsy, 9 1/2 years prior to my birth, my parents were told to institutionalize her as she would not live past 16, have severe disabilities and to just forget about her. As told to me by several relatives, my father cold-cocked the doctor and took my sister home. She will be 73 this year living in assisted living for the past 8 years, with a more active social life than me.
While in High School, we went to a similar school for my psychology course. It was horrific with the same problems as Willowridge in the story. To this day, I can remember Joey, the 5 year old boy with big brown eyes that clung to me. I often wonder what happened to him and thankfully, that “school” also closed.
The narrative, characters, and emotions are raw, straight from the heart and soul. The reader will feel every emotion that Ginny was feeling, love, fear, guilt, betrayal and self doubt!!
KEEPING LUCY will tug at your heartstrings. And as a mother, understand the love a mother has for her child. A compelling and profound read that I highly recommend!