NO NAMES TO BE GIVEN
JULIA BREWER DAILY
Publisher: Admission Press Inc.
Pub Date: August 3, 2021
Pages: 334 pages
1965. Sandy runs away from home to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Becca falls in love with the wrong man. And Faith suffers a devastating attack. With no support and no other options, these three young, unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans where they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired.
But such a life-altering event can never be forgotten, and no secret remains buried forever. Twenty-five years later, the women are reunited by a blackmailer, who threatens to expose their secrets and destroy the lives they’ve built. That shattering revelation would shake their very foundations—and reverberate all the way to the White House.
Told from the three women’s perspectives in alternating chapters, this mesmerizing story is based on actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant but unmarried, pressured by family and society to make horrific decisions. How that inconceivable act changed women forever is the story of No Names to Be Given, a heartbreaking but uplifting novel of family and redemption.
PRAISE FOR NO NAMES TO BE GIVEN
Clueless Gent’s Rating for No Names to Be Given
No Names to Be Given is a very poignant story about topics that are rarely discussed in polite society: unwed mothers, adoption, abandonment. These subjects may not be so bad in today’s society, but back in the 1960’s, in the South – when and where this story takes place, these topics were strictly taboo.
The story follows the paths of three women who find themselves sharing a room in a home for unwed mothers. The women could not be more different in background and circumstance, except for the facts that they were each unmarried and pregnant. They shared that room for several months and ultimately became very close friends. Shortly after giving birth, they each left the home to continue their separate lives. As was the custom of that home, they were not allowed to see or hold their babies, nor were they given any information about the adoptive parents. They didn’t even know if they had a boy or a girl.
That storyline is probably enough to make a good story, but this author takes it further. In the span of a decade or so, each of the three women become successful in their own way. But one day, they each receive an unsigned note in the mail that threatens to make public their pregnancies, thereby destroying their families and the lives they had built.
The ultimate storyline here packs a ton of emotion and regret and stress and sadness. Their situations are bereft of hope. What will they do?
I really enjoyed the way the author presented the story. The prologue finds the three women in the home at a point close to giving birth. When the first chapter starts, the author takes us back in time and puts us on the road that eventually takes the three women to that home. However, there are a number of ways to get on that road, and each of the women took a very different route.
Beginning with the first chapter, and for most of the remainder of the book, the chapters alternate between the three women. The author will push one woman a little further down the road, and then jump to another woman, etc. By doing it that way, I think it made it easier for me to get to know the women, their families, and their situations.
“They had no mothers to hold them, no names to be given.”
I truly believe that these women existed. Not in the personal sense, but in the sense that there were actual women who traveled down the same road as these women. Their situations may not have been that much different from our characters.
The author painted a very vivid picture of life in the South in the 1960’s. The racial tension was particularly emphasized. Although these three women were white, two of them had very close friends who were black. For example, in one of the “look back” chapters, one of the women – a girl at that time – was walking around town with her black friend. It became very apparent to her how different life was for blacks, with separate drinking fountains, separate doors and seating in restaurants and buses, and more.
I initially had a hard time identifying the antagonist(s) in this story. It could be the men who got the girls pregnant. It could be the fathers that made their daughters go to the home and give their babies up for adoption. In the end, I decided that the worst antagonist of all was the mindset of that era. In today’s world, no one would even notice a pregnant woman who wasn’t married. No one cares about that anymore. It’s “accepted” now.
I have tremendous empathy for the characters in this story! I was an only child born to an unwed mother in the 1950’s. I’ve never known my father or any half-siblings that I may have. I knew what these characters were feeling, but I could not help them. I could only continue reading – and I did.
The character arcs were huge, as you can imagine. However, I think in some way those pregnancies helped to define some of the traits those women acquired as they continued their adult lives. For example, the split between daughter and father never fully healed in some cases.
The pacing was very steady. I think going back and forth between the women in alternating chapters helped to move the story along. As I was reading about one woman, I was also wondering what was happening to the other two. I found myself becoming much more “invested” in this story than I typically am.
As I continued reading, the story became like a car starting to drive out of control. I was helpless to do anything about it, yet I was a passenger in the car and I could feel the looming disaster.
No Names to Be Given is a very “heavy” read, but I’m very glad that I read it. I think high schoolers should be required to read this. I hope you take the time to give it a read – that would be time well spent.
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