By: T. Greenwood
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 08/6/2019
My Rating: 5 Stars ++
Author Q&A Interview
Top 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.
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I loved KEEPING LUCY!
Many of you have read (2018) T. Greenwood's award-winning, Rust & Stardust, a fictional retelling of the kidnapping said to have inspired Nabokov's classic Lolita. My Top Books of 2018.
T. Greenwood returns with KEEPING LUCY, a story once again inspired by true devastating events.
"The Moon for all her light and grace
Has never learned to know her place."
In 1969, A mother heartbroken when Lucy, born with Down Syndrome is snatched from her and institutionalized. Two years later, she discovers the school, Willowridge has neglected the children and her worst nightmares become a reality.
With her six-year-old son Peyton in tow, Ginny and her best friend, Marsha takes Lucy. Racing from their home in Massachusetts, they travel through the beaches of Atlantic City, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, to a roadside mermaid show in Florida.
From social injustice to overcoming insurmountable obstacles, including her husband, legalities, authorities, and her high powered father-in-law attorney representing the school. In KEEPING LUCY, Greenwood presents a searing portrait of how far a mother's love can take her.
You are going to fall in love with little Lucy and admire the courage of Ginny and Marsha while following this entertaining and suspenseful road trip.
Based on actual events from a tragic time in history, a remarkable reimagining, and blending of fact and fiction. Told with compassion, lyrical prose, pitch-perfect pace, and memorable characters —only T. Greenwood can master.
These characters linger long after the book ends. I particularly loved Ginny's friend, Marsha. She and Ginny are opposites; however, they balanced one another. What a great friend to have especially when Ginny did not drive. They risked it all. And the memorable road trip and all the people (strong women) they met along the way. Reminds me of Catherine Ryan Hyde's Take Me with You and Sonja Yoerg's True Places.
KEEPING LUCY brilliantly showcases a woman who courageously stood up to fight for her rights and her daughter against all odds, in a time when their voices were seldom heard. T. Greenwood once again is at the top of her game! Highly Recommend. Top Books of 2019
An avid fan, having the pleasure of reading all her books—each year she continues to be on my Top Authors and Books of the Year. I hope you enjoy KEEPING LUCY as much as I did.
**Please join me August 6 for a special interview with T. Greenwood to learn more about the inspiration behind the book—sparked by the horrific conditions at Belchertown State School for the Feeble-minded, a state-run institution in Belchertown, Massachusetts.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
In the US, until the 1980s and in some cases as late as the 1990s, the way in which people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities were treated represents a shameful chapter of inhumanity and discrimination in our country. They were kept in inhumane institutions often as infants or young children where they were deprived of education, healthcare, and even plumbing. They suffered cruel and unusual punishment for innocents whose only crime is to have been born differently.
But society began to shift during the 1970s and 1980s – people with Down syndrome and other differently-abled populations were deemed “human” and institutions inhumane. The institutions were closed down, and it was now expected that people with Down syndrome would live at home, go to school and have fundamental human and civil rights. Today, the average lifespan of someone with Down syndrome is 60 years old. (Staten Island, NY) Willowbrook State School was yet another one which was closed.
These gains have been made because of the human and civil rights movement for the differently-abled that various individuals and organizations fearlessly led in the 1970s and the 1980s.
I was married and had my children during the 1970s and recall these events. During this time period when we built our first house, banks and mortgage companies did not accept a woman's salary during childbearing years. I cannot even imagine having your child ripped from you at birth.
For further reading: Down Syndrome Human and Civil Rights Timeline
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"A baby born less than perfect in the world's eyes, a mother persuaded that giving up her child is for the best, a lingering bond that pulls and tugs yet will not break. Keeping Lucy follows a mother willing to give up everything to save the child she's been told she must forget. This story will have readers not only rooting for Ginny and Lucy, but thinking about them long after the last page is turned."
-- Lisa Wingate, New York Times Bestselling Author of Before We Were Yours
“In T. Greenwood’s latest page-turner, a betrayed mother discovers just how much she is willing to sacrifice for the safety of her child, deemed unwanted by even those most trusted. Keeping Lucy is a wholly absorbing tale in which the bonds of marriage, friendship, and family are pushed to the ultimate limit. A heartrending yet inspiring novel that kept me reading late into the night.”
―Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday and The Edge of Lost
“With Keeping Lucy, Greenwood once again mines emotional depths that have become the hallmark of her writing. In fighting for the right to raise her daughter with Down Syndrome, a mother in the late 1960s harnesses the courage and confidence she didn’t know she’d possessed. Readers can’t help but be drawn into her heartbreaking and uplifting journey.”
--Mandy Mikulencak, author of Forgiveness Road and The Last Suppers
Q&A With the Author
About the Author
T. Greenwood grew up in rural Vermont. She began writing stories at seven years old and wrote her first "novel" at nine on her dad's giant blue electric typewriter.
Since then, she has published twelve novels. She has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She has won three San Diego Book Awards. Five of her novels have been
BODIES OF WATER was finalist for a Lambda Foundation award. Her twelfth novel, RUST & STARDUST, will be published by St. Martin's Press in August 2018.
She teaches creative writing for San Diego Writer's Ink and online for The Writer's Center. She and her husband, Patrick, live in San Diego, CA with their two daughters during the school year and spend their summers at her family's camp on Newark Pond in Vermont.
She is also a photographer. Read More
Author photo by Esmee Stewart.