Title: The Forgotten Home Child
Author: Genevieve Graham
Published: March 3, 2020
Cups of Tea: 5/5 ☕☕☕☕☕
**I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
The Forgotten Home Child is a gripping story I had to keep reminding myself that this is based off of historical facts. The writing is inspiring, articulate, and flew off the page.
This novel mostly focuses on Jack and Winnie in the past from when they were living on the streets in Britain to the homes for boys and girls, their trip to Canada and their lives in their new homes. It alternates between present day when Winnie is 97, and when Winnie was in Britain coming to Canada. They have high expectations of what life will be like as told to them by their caretakers taking them to Canada; they quickly realized that Canada is not what they expected. I was familiar with the places that Graham mentioned (Peterborough, London, and Toronto) since I live in Ontario where these places are located. It brought a sense of familiarity.
Winnie’s grandson makes a remark that there is nothing in the Ontario curriculum about the Home Children. I can attest to this as I went to school in Ontario, I didn’t learn about the Home Children until I went to college for Early Childhood Education, which consisted of three sides described what happened and who the children were. I thought more of this history should be told, and should be made more pubic to Canadians, it should be included as part of the curriculum not only in Ontario, but nationwide. I wish that I was taught about the Home Children more in-depth in high school, I think that this is massively under taught and brushed under the rug in Canadian history.
I found some parts very difficult to read, as there is mention of abuse and rape. It was also difficult to read knowing that this was based upon real events that happened to real children – no wonder Winnie didn’t want to talk about her past to her family. Their living conditions were deplorable – they slept in the barns with the animals, were given barely any food, and some were abused by their “masters.” There was no support for the children once they came to Canada, no one checked in on them to see how they were doing, or what their living arrangements were like. They were left to fend for themselves during this time.
Graham conducted research into the Home Children who came to Canada from Britain. It’s explained more depth at the end of the novel; how she collected her research, and the willingness of people to answer her survey questions and questionnaires.
I cried towards the end of this book, I had to take multiple deep breaths and breaks before I could continue reading. My heart ached for Winnie and her friends throughout the novel. The Forgotten Home Child was thought-provoking, I kept thinking about this novel after I finished it, which is one reason why it’s five cups of tea.