Prepub alert: the first word on titles and trends
Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
Employing accessible characters and compelling language, Chamberlain deeply mines the appalling, little-known history of North Carolina's Eugenics Sterilization Program, in effect from 1929 to 1975. As worker-tenants on a tobacco farm in 1960, 15-year-old Ivy Hart lives with her faltering, temperamental grandmother, mentally slow yet breathtakingly beautiful 17-year-old sister, young nephew "Baby" William, and her own epilepsy. Jane Forrester, an idealistic social worker, whose status-conscious doctor-husband isn't convinced his wife should hold a job, feels smothered by the social niceties of the early '60s South and starts to question the boundaries and mutual respect in her own marriage. When Jane becomes Ivy's family's social worker, she encounters the state program that seeks to sterilize "mental defectives," among others with supposedly undesirable characteristics. Through every choice she makes from then on, Jane triggers an inescapable series of events that thrusts everything either she or Ivy ever held to be true into a harsh light, binding them together in ways they do not immediately comprehend or appreciate. Absorbing and haunting, this should strongly touch Chamberlain's fans and draw those who enjoy Jodi Picoult and Barbara Delinsky. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Chamberlain is the best-selling author of 21 novels, and her latest will have a 150,000-copy first printing and be supported by a major marketing campaign. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2013 August #1
In this powerful novel, Chamberlain (Secrets She Left Behind) peels back the disturbing truths about the eugenics sterilization program implemented in North Carolina during the 1960s. Two voices reveal the heartbreak of the state-mandated program, which sterilized the mentally ill, African Americans, those with disabilities, and women on welfare. At 15, Ivy Hart does her best to hold together family life with her diabetic grandmother; her older sister, Mary Ella, who is mentally challenged; and Mary Ella's baby. They live and work as tenants on a tobacco farm in rural North Carolina. In 1960, Jane Forrester marries a doctor and, against his wishes, takes a job as a social worker with the Harts as clients. She's idealistic and shocked to learn that social workers have the power to petition to have clients sterilized. Jane narrates the story of two young women on a collision course with tragedy. VERDICT Chamberlain brings to light the horrors inflicted for years on victims of the eugenics sterilization program. By allowing Ivy and Jane to tell their stories, Chamberlain humanizes the survivors. This is a troubling account, considering how recently involuntary sterilization occurred in this country. Book groups and fans of Jodi Picoult should appreciate this work. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/13; recently released, The First Lie (ISBN 9781466839403) is an e-original short story that introduces Ivy Hart at age 13.—Ed.]—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN[Page 83]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2013 July #2
In this heart-wrenching historical fiction, prolific author Chamberlain focuses on a time in North Carolina's history that most people would rather forget. It's 1960, and Jane is a 21-year-old newlywed who's just accepted a job as a social worker, though her husband, Robert, would rather she stay home like the other country club wives. Her clients—poor tobacco farmers in Grace County, like the Hart family—live in the harsh reality of the rural South, with too many mouths to feed and not much to feed them. Jane is eager to help, until she discovers that part of her job is deciding whether young girls like the vivacious Ivy Hart should be sterilized, in order to keep them from having babies that depend on the state. A captivating look at the little-discussed eugenics program that was responsible for sterilizing more than 7,000 American citizens—some without their knowledge—this engrossing novel digs deep into the moral complexity of a dark period in history and brings it to life. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC