Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

Written by Julie Kibler
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Triple time periods tell two storylines as 2017 looks back on 1998 and the early part of the 20th century in this Texas-set story of friendship, abuse, and resilience. University librarian Cate Sutton is drawn to the remains of a Progressive-era home for unwed mothers and abused women on campus. She is curating its archives, assisted by a student with as dark a story as the women of generations past. By the novel’s end, the reader learns both the activities surrounding the past lifelong friendship of Mattie and Lizzie, and the newly formed bond growing between the two souls that discover their paths.

A powerful addition to women’s literature, the grim circumstances of a woman abandoned and alone in the early part of the 20th century are contrasted with more opportunity and acceptance. Even as the religious home is ahead of its time in its compassionate treatment of the young mothers and their children, the girls themselves push its care further when they try to help an ousted drug addict in an abandoned barn. But the modern eras are still plagued with religious bigotry, sexism, and rape denied, hidden, and the victim punished. In all time periods, life-saving bonds help unlock the keys to healing. A testament to truth and perseverance over overwhelming odds.