Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is based on the Duplessis Orphans, a truly dark period in the province of Québec, Canada. Approximately 20,000 orphaned children were falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of the province of Québec and confined to psychiatric institutions in the 50's and early 60's. Maurice Duplessis, premier of Québec at the time, signed an order-in-council, changing orphanages into hospitals in order to provide them with federal subsidies. The federal government contributions were only $1.25 a day for orphans, but $2.75 a day for psychiatric patients, offering a strong financial incentive for reclassification. Doctors falsely diagnosed the children with various mental illnesses while ignoring their actual mental state. Children in Québec orphanages were therefore declared "mentally deficient". Schooling stopped, and the orphans became inmates in a mental institution where they were sexually, physically, and mentally abused by lay monitors and nuns. Seven religious orders participated: the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of Mercy, the Gray Nuns of Montreal, the Sisters of Charity of Quebec, the Little Franciscans of Mary, the Brothers of Notre-Dame-de-la-Misericorde, and the Brothers of Charity. (Adapted from Wikipedia:

The Home for Unwanted Girls tells the story of Elodie who ended up in an orphanage after her fifteen-year-old mother, Maggie, was forced to give her for adoption by her family. Due to health issues, Elodie was never adopted and suffered the fate of many orphans during the Duplessis era. This is a story of courage, resilience and forgiveness. A must-read!

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