Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood
Published by St. Martin’s Press on August 6, 2019 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, historical fiction
Format & Length: e-book, 304
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One of PopSugar’s 30 Must-Read Books of 2019
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.
When I added Keeping Lucy to the list of books I was anticipating most for 2019, I mentioned that it sounded like an intense tale of a mother’s love that would make me feel all the feels. And that’s exactly what it delivered.
In this historical fiction novel, Ginny gives birth to a baby girl, Lucy, who has Down syndrome, and is pressured to give her up to a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Two years later she discovers the school is not as it appeared to be and goes to check on her baby girl. Inspired by an actual state-run institution in Massachusetts that was exposed for its horrific living conditions, this story examines the fallout when those conditions are discovered.
Although the bulk of Keeping Lucy takes place around 1970, much of it felt more 1950s era to me, despite the historical fact grounding it in the time period. Mostly because Ginny’s character seems stuck in an earlier decade, especially early on in the book. However, it was great to see her character growth as the story progressed and toward the end, the setting felt more appropriate. This also moved at a faster paced than I expected it to, with plotting that helped to urge it onward quickly.
Ultimately, Keeping Lucy was powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking, and I couldn’t stop myself from crying on several occasions. Although this is historical fiction inspired by true events, several moments will require the reader to suspend disbelief. If this sounds like your kind of book, go ahead and give it a chance.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.