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Publisher's Summary

The Home for Unwanted Girls meets Orphan Train in this unforgettable novel about a young girl caught in a scheme to rid England’s streets of destitute children, and the lengths she will go to find her way home - based on the true story of the British Home Children. 

2018 

At 97 years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left, and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. 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 promise she made so long ago... 

1936 

Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack, and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them. 

But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again.

Inspired by true events, The Forgotten Home Child is a moving and heartbreaking novel about place, belonging, and family - the one we make for ourselves and its enduring power to draw us home.

©2020 Genevieve Graham (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about The Forgotten Home Child

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
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  • LH
  • 2021-02-02

Fascinating and well written

The characters came alive for me. I experienced the tears, the love, the horrors. As a Canadian it makes me very sad that any were mistreated.

1 person found this helpful

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Wow what a powerful story

I absolutely loved this book. A magnificent story that stirred so many emotions. I was previously unaware of the home children from England. A definite must read for all.

1 person found this helpful

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Enlightening!

My Great Grandmother was a British Home Child. I grew up knowing this, and had a vague idea of the basics. I was always told that she was fortunate to have been taken in by kind people, and that this was not always the case. This was followed by a story that is foggy in my memory but involves a boy getting struck by pitchfork. All my life I thought this must have been an accidental incident, though perhaps not...
This informative novel illuminates what it may have been like for my Great Grandmother and I am grateful. Thank you!

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I never knew!

So amazing that these things have happened in Canada and they are not known by many people or taught in school. I found the sing songing voice of the female reader quite annoying but the story was so interesting I persevered!

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  • Jo
  • 2021-05-11

Wow!

Not often does a book take me in like this one has. You feel their pain, their fears, their struggles ... as a Canadian from Irish immigrants, I'm left without words that I had never heard of "Home Children" Awesome! This should be one of the " must have" titles for Canadians!

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  • JT
  • 2021-05-06

Loved the story and performances

As a Canadian, I can’t believe I’ve never heard or learned about home children in school. I’m so happy I listened to this book. Great story that reflects what home children went through, and great performances by the narrators. Highly recommend!

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Fantastic book!

This was definitely one of the best books I’ve ever listened too... and was shocked to know it was closer to the truth then not. Being a Canadian, I now understand more of the why our descendants were mostly English and Irish. I will now look for more information on the Home children. Definitely recommend.

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It was a beyond amazing book.

I highly recommend this book... loved every minute. It is a heartbreaking yet lovely story. M

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3.5 stars

A delightful beginning, a strong and interesting middle, ending in cliché. I am grateful to the author as I learned about British homechildren, for the first time. I can also appreciate that she fabricated a story based on a mosaic of lived experience. However, in my opinion, not every experience needed to be included. I found the relationship souring and the secrecy that ensued, to be unrelatable. An interesting topic, with a captivating beginning with a disappointing finish.

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INCREDIBLE

Unbelievable story, I had no idea that this even happened. A difficult read nut well worth it

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2020-04-13

Great Story

What an amazingly informative story based on true real life history. I never lost interest the whole time. The writer also did not leave any questions unanswered at the end yeah! I hate it when they leave you hanging.
The narrator was amazing as well. She never made me think about her being different voices at all. Some times it is so hard to get through a book because the narrator is so bad or dramatic about having to be the voice of so many characters. This narrator made the whole story flow.

P.S. You will cry.......

55 people found this helpful

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  • Kelly
  • 2020-07-29

a moving story about a true bit of history

This book took a hold of my heart and wrenched all of the sorrow out of it. I found myself attached to his characters and I now miss them. As an American I knew nothing about "home children" - if that is you too, I highly recommend a quick read of the wikipedia article to fill in your knowledge of this true story. It brought to mind the stories from my childhood that came from the grandma of kids I knew -- a woman who was a tiny girl sent west on the orphan trains here in the US.

In 1936 a young girl named Winny has run away from an abusive stepfather and is living on the streets of Liverpool, where she meets siblings Jack and Mary. They are force to steal food to live and one day they are caught. The two girls are sent to an orphanage for girls and Jack is sent elsewhere. Soon Winny learns that she is being sent to Canada to work. Mary and Jack go as well, but they are separated.

Winny's home life in Canada is harsh and difficult but she maintains hope that she will eventually be free to rejoin her friends. Unfortunately things are much worse for Mary, and they lose track of Jack.

In 2018 Winnifred (Winny) is now ninety-seven years old and is telling the story of her life to her grandson. She shares her shame over her status as a home child and tells the story about her reunion with Jack -- who would become her husband. This part of the story is lovely and sweet because her grandson is able to learn so much from her and also help her know more about all the other children brought to Canada. She found herself realizing that there was no need to feel shame. He helped her resolve the emotional burdens by talking to him, and he was able to love and respect her even more for her resilience.

This is a story of love, survival and pliancy, family, found family, and hope. I am certain to reread this one someday.

43 people found this helpful

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  • Kristen Hudson
  • 2020-10-15

Wonderful story of a forgotten history.

Recently I had heard about British Home Children. I saw this book in the book store and though the description sounded good. I bought it on Audible and really enjoyed the story.

The author states she only heard about British Home Children through reading an article in her newspaper. The story feels as if she grew up with these stories, not read them. She did amazing research.

The narrators did a wonderful job, especially Alana Kerr Collins as she switches between an English, Irish, and Canadian accent flawlessly.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for history on a hidden past written in an easy to follow, entertaining format. The story continued to draw me with each new chapter. I really didn’t want it to end.

As an American (US) right now, I hear so much about social justice and reparations for one group of people. This bothers me as everyone has had hardships culturally. This story really brings to light the not so perfect life a whole group of people, and children at that, suffered through from a country all Americans (US) threaten to move to when they don’t like what the US is doing.

Life is not always greener on the other side.

38 people found this helpful

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  • Dorothy
  • 2020-06-14

Must-read book for Canadians

Painful and heartbreaking... I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't listening to Roots. As a Canadian, I naively believed that these sorts of horror-stories only happened in other countries. It's unbelievable that this happened here, and even more unbelievable that most Canadians have never heard of it.
Of course, this is historical fiction, but as the author explains at the end of the novel, all of the characters and incidents are based on true stories collected from the descendants of home-school children.
A national tragedy... and a riveting story. I couldn't stop listening.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Donna
  • 2020-07-24

Loved it!

a very poignant story. well written and researched. I could not stop listening until it was done.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Carrie A. Turansky
  • 2020-05-31

History Comes Alive

This is historical fiction at its best, bringing the British Home Child emigration scheme to the forefront. Heart-tugging, realistic, and well written.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Marie B.
  • 2020-06-06

Gripping and heartbreaking.

This story was well written with meaningful character development. I was hooked at the first chapter.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Jason E Burgher
  • 2020-06-01

very good book

loved thia book so much, the writing and narration were amazing!!!! probably going to read this one again.

11 people found this helpful

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  • B. Campbell
  • 2020-12-29

A beautiful story about a grandmother’s life

If you found “The Orphan Train” of interest, this will also be a book to add to your list.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Joan
  • 2021-01-09

Extraordinary Non-Fiction

Of Irish decent I've read about the Orphan Trains in the USA. This book exposes Canada's orphans.

4 people found this helpful