My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to rad - 3 days
Publisher - PAN
Pages - 335
Blurb from Goodreads
North Carolina, 1960. Newlywed Jane Forrester, fresh out of university, is seeking what most other women have shunned: a career. But life as a social worker is far from what she expected. Out amongst the rural Tobacco fields of Grace County, Jane encounters a world of extreme poverty that is far removed from the middle-class life she has grown up with. But worse is still to come. Working with the Hart family and their fifteen-year-old daughter Ivy, it’s not long before Jane uncovers a shocking secret, and is thrust into a moral dilemma that puts her career on the line, threatens to dissolve her marriage, and ultimately, determines the fate of Ivy and her family forever. Soon Jane is forced to take drastic action, and before long, there is no turning back.
The book starts in present day, well 2011, and gives a brief cover on an event and then takes us back to 1960, North Carolina in America. Jane Forrester is a new wife, new graduate and looking to have a career. An anomaly for her time but desperate to have a career and help people she gets a job as a social worker. Jane is rich, married to a doctor and wants for nothing, her clients are struggling to survive, need help but are proud people. Jane finds herself drawn to one family in particular in a small rural community. Jane needs to keep to what is best for the community, the people and keep her personal feelings at bay or risk more than her job.
Aw this is a great story with sad and very real issues that were a "normal" part of society for the poorer people and how they where exploited. Forced sterilizations, women seen as outcasts for wanting something more than a baby, racism, in these days you take so much for granted and often forget the horrors inflicted upon previous generations.
The book focuses on relationships between the rich and the poor, societal attitudes, the love between families and how a look at human nature and just how good and bad it can be. The story is mostly told from the view point of Ivy, 15 years old and one of Jane's new clients, poor and limited education. The other is told from Jane's, both are from first person narrative and skillfully shows the stark differences between the world they inhibit.
I found it hard to put down and was really drawn in to the tale from the first few pages. Ivy is a great wee character and my heart went out to her for trying to take so much on her shoulders. Jane is a likable character but she annoyed me at times with some of her actions and even her docile attitude in regards to her husband at times. That said it reflects well the way a woman lived and was expected to live in the 1960s. It is a thought provoking book and certainly makes you think about society back when, if you didn't fit into what was deemed acceptable you could loose so much. At the end there is an authors note with some of the reading she undertook whilst preparing and writing this book, I aim to read some of them too as it is such a shocking and interesting subject. The chapters are named so you know who is talking, although they are so distinctive you would know without it and they are fairly short so you can dip in and out. Overall I really liked it so 4/5 for me this time. I of course will read this author again, I really enjoy her writing style and have read her before.