No Names To Be Given fictionalizes the mixed bag of adoption in the 1960s, as experienced by three unwed teenaged mothers from different backgrounds, who meet at a maternity center in New Orleans. There’s Faith, the daughter of a evangelist whose dreams of music ministry are cut short when she is raped. There’s Sandy who runs away from home to escape her new stepfather but continues looking for a father figure in other places. And then there’s Becca, a white college student who falls in love with a black man while the Civil Rights movement is well underway but before anyone would recognize their relationship as legitimate.
By highlighting each of these women working to overcome different but equally challenging circumstances, author Julia Brewer Daily gives us a snapshot into life in the 1960s, offering up historical notes and citing references that educate as well as entertain. So we see The Green Book that Becca’s boyfriend, Zeke, mentions in looking for safe spaces to visit. We see the stash of cheap gold rings that the maternity center proprietor keeps on hand so the pregnant teens won’t attract any unnecessary (negative) attention. We also get insight on the (lack of) options for women during this time.
No Names To Be Given is an excellent introduction to the whys and the whether’s of adoption – the questions that the main characters ask themselves and each other as they process the impending reality of life without the babies they gave birth to. And while the story of the births is interesting, the trajectories that these women’s lives take afterwards also highlights the possibilities, and isn’t that the real focus of adoption?
This was quite an interesting read but also an emotional experience for me because since becoming a mother myself, every book that I have read that touches on the experience of parenthood, impacts me in different ways. Brewer Daily really centers on the quandary that the young women found themselves in, penning sympathetic characters who despite their different backgrounds, couldn’t be faulted for how their unplanned pregnancies came about, but also coming from such varied backgrounds, also show the things that united women in that time.
I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in how history was lived by specific individuals, but also for readers who are interested in adoption stories.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of No Names To Be Given from TLC Book Tours in order to complete this review. I was not otherwise compensated and my views expressed above reflect my honest opinion about the book.
Title: No Names To Be Given
Author: Julia Brewer Daily
Publisher: Admission Press
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, 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.