Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler is a work of fiction based on the real Berachah Industrial Home, a church run institution for unwed or otherwise abandoned and homeless pregnant girls in early 1900s Texas. The home opened in 1903 and closed in 1935, assisting approximately 3000 erring and outcast girls and their children.
This story follows two young mothers living at the Berachah home and two women who become intrigued by their story while at University of Texas Arlington, which now stands on the home’s former site.
The depths ‘ruined’ young women were forced to sink to for survival so long ago was appalling, inhuman. At that time a wife, daughter, any woman, was property to be used any way their family, or any man, saw fit – and yet there was no responsibility to her. If she refused, heaven forbid became pregnant, or simply no longer held their interest – the girl could be turned out into the street with no means of supporting herself – and often punished for getting herself into the situation. Surprisingly/not surprisingly, this story illustrates how little attitudes toward abused young women have changed in the last century. Can we say #metoo movement?
The story jumps back and forth between 1900s, 1990s, and 2017, but is well written and easy to follow. I immediately came to care deeply for all the women, each character well developed and with a rich back story.
Although there are a few predictable moments, there are many unexpected twists. In fact I quiet embarrassed myself – once gasping out loud and once spontaneously bursting into tears – all while in a crowded waiting room. On the upside, a whole room full of people just pre-ordered the book!
This is a thought provoking book, but also an enjoyable story I definitely recommend. It is expected to be released July 30th, and is available for pre-order now.
(I was lent an uncorrected proof of this book by the publisher to read and offer my thoughts, all thoughts and opinions are my own.)