Publisher: Sourcebooks, Landmark
Date of publication: August 28th, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes another unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.
2 CHILDREN FOR SALE
The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices.
For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.
Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value.
Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers across the nation, this touching novel explores the tale within the frame and behind the lens—a journey of ambition, love, and the far-reaching effects of our actions.
I know I have mentioned this before but I tend to stay away from reading historical fiction. I don’t have anything against historical fiction, I don’t like to read it. In my experience, I have found that fictional retellings of famous events aren’t as good as I want them to be. There is always something left out. I liken it to books made into movies/TV series. 99% of them do not follow the book but there’s that 1% that not only follows it but is fantastic. Sold on a Monday is that 1% for me.
Sold on a Monday is based on a real-life photograph that was taken during the Great Depression. If you have followed the story of the 4 children in that photograph, you know that they didn’t have a happy ending. That they were abused by the people who bought them. The author played the “what if” angle of that photograph. What if the mother had second thoughts? What if the photographer had remorse over publishing the picture? She also explored the reasons why a parent would choose to do something like that. The story that she created out of that photograph was heartbreaking.
What I liked about this book is that the main characters, Ellis and Lilly, were not perfect. Ellis had a strained relationship with his parents. His father was disappointed with the career choice that Ellis chose. Ellis believed that his father didn’t love him. That it should have been Ellis that died instead of his brother. Lilly was an unwed mother. If you know anything from that time, unwed mothers were not accepted by society. Jobs were not made available to them. Those women and their children were shunned, by family and strangers alike. Lilly couldn’t mention her son. If her boss found out, he would have fired her.
The main storyline was fantastic. That picture was not supposed to be published. When Lilly (yes, Lilly) saw it in the darkroom, she knew that it was something. She turned it into her boss, who in turn told Ellis to write the story about it. I was a little miffed at Lilly at that point. I was thinking to myself “Why can’t she mind her own business!!“. But, she knew it was something and that could push Ellis’s career into the spotlight.
I felt awful that Ellis had so much guilt over the children being bought. So much guilt that he tracked them down to make sure that they were alright. He earned hero status in my eyes when he rescued Calvin from that farm. It made me angry to think that children were treated like that back then. But in hindsight, they were considered property….like the women were. So, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
The storyline with Lilly, her parents and Samuel were sweet. It was refreshing to read a book where the daughter was loved regardless of what she did. I liked that her parents 100% stood behind her with keeping Samuel. For that era, they were an anomaly. How Lilly was with Samuel touched my heart also. She loved her son and would do anything for him. That meant weeks working in the city and weekends home with him. Everything she did was for him.
The storyline with Ellis and his family annoyed me, to be honest. Ellis came across as a petulant little boy, not a grown man. The whole dinner scene left a bad taste in my mouth. Instead of reaching out, Ellis thought it was because his father thought Ellis should be dead instead of his brother. When his father finally told Ellis the true reason why he didn’t like his career choice, Ellis was like “Oh, ok“. He did apologize but it came across as insincere.
I was surprised that there was romance in this book. I was even more surprised when there was an implied love triangle. I thought the book could have done without romance. While it did add some depth to the plotline, I didn’t see the need for it.
The end of Sold on a Monday is heartbreaking. There is a twist in the plot that I saw coming. I was still surprised by the outcome. It forced a reconciliation between Ellis and his parents. I wouldn’t say that it was a happy ending because of what happened to Ruby’s “adoptive” mother. I also didn’t see Lilly making the choice that she did.
I enjoyed the afterward that the author note at the end of the book. I agreed with everything that she wrote.
What I liked about Sold on a Monday:
A) Main characters were not perfect
B) The main storyline
C) Lilly’s parents
What I disliked about Sold on a Monday:
A) Ellis. He annoyed me
B) Lilly showing the photo to the chief
C) The romance angle of the book
I gave Sold on a Monday a 4-star rating. This was a great book that was set during the Great Depression. This book was historically accurate. I did get annoyed with Ellis during the book. I also got annoyed with Lily. But overall a great book.
I gave Sold on a Monday an Older Teen rating. There is no sex (some kissing, though). There is no language. There is some mild violence. I would suggest that no one under 16 read this book.
I would reread Sold on a Monday. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.
I would like to thank Sourcebooks, Landmark, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Sold on a Monday.
All opinions stated in this review of Sold on a Monday are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**