An incredible, unbelievable story that had so much potential to be one of my top books of the year, but unfortunately it was so poorly written and repetitive that I will confess to have skimmed the last 20%.
This book is primarily about Humphrey’s experience with working with adults who were exported from Britain to Australia from the 1920s-1950s. And yes, when I say exported, I mean that — they were, in many ways, treated like a commodity to be used. They were sent, without the consent of their parents, to populate the orphanages and do hard, back breaking work in the desolate spaces of Australia. Many of these children were not technically orphans, but had been entrusted to the care of orphanages by their parents who were not able to take care of them. Others were in state care because their mothers were not married. The mothers gave up their children with the the promise that they would be adopted into loving families.
The story, in and of itself, is horrifying and should have made for an excellent, although painful read. But instead of letting the stories of the child migrants shine, Humphrey inserted herself into the story and she became the focus. Yes, I understand the work was incredibly difficult and that she wanted to protect the child migrants, but what resulted from these two facts is a work that is very dry. I expected to feel an enormous sadness while I was reading, but instead struggled to connect to the lives of these children. Instead, I was annoyed with Humphrey’s voice getting in the way.
I was reminded in many ways of my experience with reading [book:The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever|23309930], which had a similar feel to it. Tremendous potential for a powerful narrative, but unfortunately the writing of these experiences left me counting pages for the book to be over.