January 18, 2020

#BookReview: The Girls with No Names by @serenaburdick

Synopsis: The Girls with No Names pulls readers into the gilded age of New York City in the 1910s, when suffragettes marched in the street, unions fought for better work conditions—and girls were confined to the House of Mercy for daring to break the rules. 

Not far from Luella and Effie Tildon’s large family mansion in Inwood looms the House of Mercy, a work house for wayward girls. The sisters grow up under its shadow with the understanding that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters accidentally discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen older sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases.

But her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone. Effie suspects her father has made good on his threat to send Luella to the House of Mercy and hatches a plan to get herself committed to save her sister. But she made a miscalculation, and with no one to believe her story, Effie’s escape from the House of Mercy seems impossible—unless she can trust an enigmatic girl named Mable. As their fates entwine, Mable and Effie must rely on each other and their tenuous friendship to survive.

The Home for Unwanted Girls meets The Dollhouse in this atmospheric, heartwarming story that explores not only the historical House of Mercy, but the lives—and secrets—of the girls who stayed there.


Rating: ★★★★★
My Review: 
This heart wrenching tale of two “nameless “ girls and the strength it took to survive was the best historical fiction book I’ve read all year. Set in turn of the century New York the story is told from the perspectives of Effie, her mother Jean, and Mable. The switches between points of view were smooth and easy to read. Serena Burdick does a wonderful job drawing you into the story. I felt like I was there suffering along side the characters. Even though I wish there was a little bit more about Mercy House I give this book five stars. 

Go Into This One Knowing: Rape

"I'm shocked I'd never heard of The House of Mercy, the asylum for fallen women at the center of Serena Burdick's beautiful novel. Burdick expertly weaves together the stories of women affected by the asylum, telling a mesmerizing tale of strength, subterfuge, and the unbreakable bond between sisters." – Whitney Scharer, author of The Age of Light

"Filled with true historical details about life inside a work house for wayward girls in the 1910s, The Girls with No Names is a beautifully written, haunting novel. Burdick gorgeously portrays womanhood and coming-of-age set against the backdrop of the real House of Mercy, but above all, she weaves a stunning story of sisters, friendship, secrets, and ultimately survival. I fell in love with the courageous Effie and Mabel and will not soon forget their stories." – Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of The Lost Letter and In Another Time

“Burdick’s carefully researched narrative shines a light on the untold stories of countless real women, and fans of Joanna Goodman’s The Home for Unwanted Girls will be consumed by the fast-paced plot and well-characterized, sympathetic girls at the novel’s heart.” – Booklist

“The lives of women in early-20th-century New York spring to life through Burdick's deft sketching… As for the House of Mercy itself, Burdick shrewdly lets it loom in the background for a bit before pulling it to the foreground, like an urban legend suddenly brought to life. A spellbinding thriller for fans of Gilded Age fiction.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“Burdick will break hearts with this exquisitely wrought, meticulously researched historical reflection on an American version of the infamous Magdalene laundries of Ireland… The narrative combines lush prose with a quick and riveting plot. Readers will be intensely moved by this historical.” – Publishers Weekly

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