Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: August 6th, 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction
From the author of Rust & Stardust comes this heartbreaking story, inspired by true events, of how far one mother must go to protect her daughter.
Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson’s heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded.” Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.
But two years later, when Ginny’s best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth–its squalid hallways filled with neglected children–she knows she can’t leave her daughter there. With Ginny’s six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.
For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.
Keeping Lucy is a tale of a mother’s love and how powerful it could be. Ginny’s heart was broken when she was told that her baby had Down’s Syndrome. It was crushed even more when her powerful father in law arraigned for the newborn to be taken to Willowridge, a school for feeble-minded people. Ginny was never allowed to see Lucy and was told that she should mourn for Lucy like she was dead. Two years pass. Then Ginny’s friend Marsha shows her a series of articles that expose Willowridge as a hell on earth for its residents. Horrified at what she saw and read, Ginny, can’t leave Lucy there. After seeing the school and the conditions for herself, Ginny is determined never to bring her back. But her actions have consequences that soon have her and Marsha racing towards Florida with the children. What will happen to Lucy? To Ginny?
Keeping Lucy was a hard book for me to read. As a mother, I couldn’t even begin to fathom what Ginny went through in the 2 years after Lucy was taken from her. I don’t know how she could live with her husband after he forced that decision on her. But, then again, this was the late 60’s/early ’70s. Men still made the decisions, and women’s feelings were not thought about.
Ginny’s character development through the book was terrific. She went from being this meek, compliant housewife to a person who stood her ground when threatened. I loved it. She became an enraged mama bear protecting her cub. The ultimatum that she threw down to Ab was epic. Even better was what she said to her overbearing, control freak of a father in law.
I didn’t care for Ab. He let his father rule his life. In doing so, he allowed his daughter to be placed in a “school” with deplorable living conditions. He did love Ginny and Peyton. I also understood where he was coming from when he made the decision to send Lucy away. But, it was everything after the fact that made me go “WTF.“
Lucy was the innocent victim in all this. I shared Ginny’s horror when she saw (and smelled) the conditions of that “school.” The scene when Ginny first changed Lucy’s diaper broke my heart. How long did she sit in that diaper for the rash to get that bad?? There are other examples of the severe neglect that she endured, but I won’t go into them.
I didn’t like Ab’s father. He was a controlling jerk. I don’t understand why he thought that he could separate a mother from her child. I don’t understand why he thought that bullying his son into complying was alright. I do believe that he was one of those rich people who thought money and connections solved everything. He was a jerk and deserved a knee to the crotch.
The main plotline, Ginny going on the run with the kids, was well written. It did get off to a slow start, but it gained steam. By the time everyone reached Florida, it was flowing nicely. I could taste her desperation. I could feel her horror and fear. But, more importantly, I saw the fierce love that she had for her children. She was willing to do whatever it took to prevent Lucy from going back to that hellhole.
The end of Keeping Lucy was different. All I have to say about it is that I am happy with how things ended up.
I would give Keeping Lucy an Adult rating. There are sexual references but sex is not described outright. There is mild language. There is mild violence. There are triggers. They would be extreme child neglect. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread Keeping Lucy. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.
I would like to thank the publishers, the author, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Keeping Lucy.
All opinions stated in this review of Keeping Lucy are mine.