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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Girls We Sent Away

Narrator: Susan Bennett

ISBN: 978-1728283098

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Publication Date: 03/05/2024

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC) (ALC)


A searing book club read for fans of Ellen Marie Wiseman and The Girls with No Names set in the Baby Scoop Era of the 1960s and the women of a certain condition swept up in a dark history.

It's the 1960s and Lorraine Delford has it all – an upstanding family, a perfect boyfriend, and a white picket fence home in North Carolina. Yet every time she looks through her father's telescope, she dreams of the stars. It's ambitious, but Lorraine has always been exceptional.

But when this darling girl-next-door gets pregnant, she's forced to learn firsthand the realities that keep women grounded.

To hide their daughter's secret shame, the Delfords send Lorraine to a maternity home for wayward girls. But this is no safe haven – it's a house with dark secrets and suffocating rules. And as Lorraine begins to piece together a new vision for her life, she must decide if she can fight against the powers that aim to take her child or submit to the rules of a society she once admired.

Powerful and affecting, The Girls We Sent Away is a timely novel that explores autonomy, belonging, and a quest for agency when the illusions of life as you know it fall away.

My Review

Master storyteller Meagan Church (favorite author) returns following her smashing debut, The Last Carolina Girl with her latest, THE GIRLS WE SENT AWAY —a gripping, heartbreaking, and profoundly emotional tale inspired by a dark time in Southern history.

Set in North Carolina in the 1960s, in the Baby Scoop Era we meet Lorraine Delford, an only child. She has been dating her boyfriend, Cliff, with her parent’s approval for two years, and he’s about to go to college. She is starting her last year of high school and plans to be the valedictorian at Mecklenburg High.

Lorraine is intelligent and interested in science and the space race. As a girl she discovered her love of stars with her father's telescope and wants to be an astronaut. Her parents are all about appearances. She considers herself a good girl. However, one night the trajectory of her life changes.

When Lorraine winds up pregnant, and things do not go as she expected with the father, her parents want to send her off to a home for wayward girls. They want to hide her away and pretend this never happened. They offer no support, love, or sympathy. They drop her off. She is afraid and scared. Her parents make up excuses that she is off caring for her aunt and their babies.

Lorraine hopes she will be able to study and get her degree while away, but the school offers no support except a finishing school to each of you how to fold napkins and housewife duties.

At a loss, she finally meets a librarian interested in her and her studies. One obstacle after another, and the folks at the home do not care if you want to keep your baby. They have families lined up and as a young girl they take away your choices with lies and deceit and destroy your self-confidence. Lorraine never expected her life to turn out the way it did.

Oh, how I loved this book. Lorraine's dreams were shattered and had no one to support her. You will despise the parents and Cliff, the boyfriend. You will root for Lorraine until the end. You will laugh and cry (mostly cry).

I loved this book, and my favorite for March. If you read Meagan Church's previous book, THE LAST CAROLINA GIRL (our interview), you will devour THE GIRLS WE SENT AWAY. Meagan is an incredible gifted storyteller and enjoy her writing style—one of my favorite Southern authors.

Set in Charlotte, North Carolina (I am a native— growing up in this same area & time period) during the Baby Scoop Era of the 1960s, the women of a particular condition were swept up in a dark history. They had no voice in the decisions affecting their lives.

It is heartbreaking, powerful, and beautifully written; you will fall in love with Lorraine! A Must-Read (Southern Fiction, historical, coming of age, literary, mothers/daughters, family drama). 5 Stars ++ and Top Books of 2024.

Meticulously researched, rich in detail and history, I enjoyed the author's notes and the sparks that ignited the inspiration behind the book. A book of shame, resilience, courage, survival, finding the strength to pick up the pieces of shattered dreams, piece together new ones, and keep moving forward. The book will remain with you long after the book ends. Thank you for telling this essential story.

AUDIOBOOK: I read both books and listened to the audiobooks narrated by the fabulous Susan Bennett (a favorite) —the performances were spellbinding! Susan made the characters come alive!

THE GIRLS WE SENT AWAY is ideal for book clubs and further discussions. On sale March 5, 2024, by Sourcebooks Landmark. For fans of her first book THE LAST CAROLINA GIRL, Sadeqa Johnson's The House Of Eve and Diane Chamberlain's Necessary Lies.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark, Recorded Books, and NetGalley for a gifted ARC and ALC in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars +

Pub Date: March 5, 2024


“Church’s story gets deep inside Lorraine’s head with tenderness and compassion… This is a heartbreaking tale of prejudice, shame and secret-keeping within families, and a sincere and moving account of one teenager’s personal grief and inner strength…”

— Historical Novel Society

“In this engaging, shocking, heart-wrenching story, readers are pulled along with Lorraine through the ups and downs of her pregnancy, optimistic for her future but saddened by its likely outcome. Fans of Church’s The Last Carolina Girl will be clamoring to read this one.”

— Library Journal

"Meagan Church’s The Girls We Sent Away, is such an important and vital story. With exquisite writing, Church exposes a murky little pocket of history, and a reprehensible practice that surely had a generational impact on families. Through her captivating and thought-provoking scenes, I became wholeheartedly invested in the outcome of her remarkable heroine, Lorraine Delford, cheering for her all the way."

― Donna Everhart, USA Today bestselling author of The Saints of Swallow Hill

"In this stunning novel, Meagan Church weaves historical research and compelling narrative into an elegant tapestry that brings 1960s North Carolina to life. Lorraine Delford is an endearing and relatable heroine whose indefatigable spirit is sure to win readers’ hearts. Even as others try to direct the course of Lorraine’s future, she is determined to wrest back what control she can. A memorable portrait of a tumultuous time period, I highly recommend The Girls We Sent Away for fans of historical fiction."

― Heather Bell Adams, author of Maranatha Road and The Good

"Readers will be entranced as author Meagan Church steadily peels away the veneer of the era, revealing the dark underbelly of a secretive and unforgiving society."

― Tracey Enerson Wood, internationally bestselling author of The Engineer’s Wife and The War Nurse

"Meagan Church paints a harrowing picture of one woman's experience during the Baby Scoop Era. Timely and emotional, The Girls We Sent Away depicts both the devastating loss of faith in those who are supposed to protect us and the ability of the human heart to trust again."

― Laura Barrow, author of Call the Canaries Home

"With beautiful prose and delicate precision, Church transports readers to the tumultuous Baby Scoop era of the 1960s, providing a well-crafted and researched look into the struggles of women during this dark period in history, and evokes a lasting impression of empathy for young Lorraine. Heart-wrenching and thought provoking, THE GIRLS WE SENT AWAY is a captivating novel, impossible to put down and one which will be remembered long after you turn the last page."

― Terah Shelton Harris, author of One Summer in Savannah

"Powerful and affecting, THE GIRLS WE SENT AWAY underscores both the worst and best of the human heart, and the resilience and courage of women forced to walk away from their dreams to piece together new ones. Meagan Church’s sophomore novel is another important masterpiece, shining a light on a horrible bit of women’s history that the world would rather keep in a darkened corner."

― Joy Callaway, internationally bestselling author of What the Mountains Remember

"Heartbreaking and heartstopping, The Girls We Sent Away is a beautiful exploration of what it means to be human and how resilient the human spirit is. Meagan Church weaves the absence of choices with the desires of the heart together in another page-turner."

― Leslie Hooton, award-winning author of The Secret of Rainy Days and After Everyone Else

About the Author

Meagan Church is the author of The Last Carolina Girl and The Girls We Sent Away. She writes to tell grounded stories that explore the complexity of human nature. Her historical fiction chronicles the plight and fight of unheard voices of the past. After receiving a B.A. in English from Indiana University, Meagan built a career as a storyteller and freelance writer for brands, blogs and organizations. A Midwesterner by birth, she now lives in North Carolina with her high school sweetheart, three children and a plethora of pets. WEBSITE

Check out fun & fascinating

Q&A with Author

Meagan Church

Where we go behind the scenes of the author and THE LAST CAROLINA GIRL!



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