NO NAMES TO BE GIVEN
JULIA BREWER DAILY
Categories: Women’s Fiction / Vintage Fiction / Adoption / 1960s
Publisher: Admission Press Inc.
Pub Date: August 3, 2021 – 334 pages
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1965. Sandy runs away from home to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Becca falls in love with the wrong man. And Faith suffers a devastating attack. With no support and no other options, these three young, unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans where they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired.
But such a life-altering event can never be forgotten, and no secret remains buried forever. Twenty-five years later, the women are reunited by a blackmailer, who threatens to expose their secrets and destroy the lives they’ve built. That shattering revelation would shake their very foundations—and reverberate all the way to the White House.
Told from the three women’s perspectives in alternating chapters, this mesmerizing story is based on actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant but unmarried, pressured by family and society to make horrific decisions. How that inconceivable act changed women forever is the story of No Names to Be Given, a heartbreaking but uplifting novel of family and redemption.
PRAISE FOR NO NAMES TO BE GIVEN:
A gorgeous, thrilling, and important novel! These strong women will capture your heart. —Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas.
An insightful and sympathetic view offered into the lives of those who were adopted and those who adopted them. —Pam Johnson, author of Justice for Ella.
A novel worthy of a Lifetime movie adaptation. —Jess Hagemann, author of Headcheese.
Readers can expect deep knowledge of the world the characters inhabit. ––Sara Kocek, author of Promise Me Something.
This book is a relevant read and one that will keep readers guessing page after page until the very end. —The US Review of Books
Today’s young women, especially, need to absorb No Names to Be Given. —Midwest Book Review, D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
The year is 1966. Three young women, Faith, Sandy, and Becca are all pregnant and not married. The circumstances of each “oops” are different. Faith, the daughter of a successful Evangelical Preacher was raped by a man working for her father. Sandy gives her heart, and her virginity, to a man she thought could be hers, only to find out he was already married. And Becca is pregnant with a child by Zeke, the man she met in college and fell in love with. Unfortunately for the times, their being a couple is not accepted in most social circles because he’s Black.
Through alternating chapters, and alternating points of view, the reader learns of the families and backgrounds of each girl, and as I read, I wished that some of those chapters had been combined. As a reader, I like to learn about a character in a few longer chapters rather than so many short ones. Still, other readers may not find that an issue, and the women’s backgrounds and family of origin all play an important part in the development of each girl into young adulthood, as well as what happens to them immediately after the pregnancy is known.
My initial interest in the book stemmed from the fact that I, too, was an unwed mother in the 60s, so some of what these women experienced rang true to me. Making that choice to give a baby to someone else for whatever reason is the hardest decision a woman can make, and when that decision is taken away because of social and family pressure, I think the trauma would be even worse.
The reader gets tastes of that trauma in this story, but doesn’t always get the full plate. What I mean is that while I could relate to what these women went through at the Maternity Home, I didn’t always feel their pain, especially as they left the home and their babies. They felt numb, and while that is one of the myriad of feelings on that day, there is so much more that could have been shown for a heart-to-heart connection with the reader. There is some of that later, and what came later is a true portrayal of the lasting grief and guilt. The scenes with Faith where I connected with her anguish were the most telling.
It’s obvious that the author did her research, and she does a nice job of relating information about family and social reactions to an unwed mother, as well as the conditions in a home for unwed mothers. It was interesting to see how a privately-owned home is run, and I did enjoy the visit to New Orleans.
No Names Given has quite a few surprises in the second half of the novel, and I found the complications most interesting, even though there were a few coincidences that make it a bit difficult to maintain my suspension of disbelief. The way the lives of the three women came together again after many years apart was a good way to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.
While reading a book, I often highlight lines that make me pause and smile for the concise way they move a story along and illuminate a character. This is just one that I highlighted in this book. It’s from Sandy when she was thinking about the Lafitte brothers who were notorious pirates who smuggled goods into Louisiana in the early 19th century. Sandy was in the bar where the brothers had often gone to drink. when she muses, “New Orleans was a place where one could disappear or become infamous. She was halfway between the two.”
No Names Given is a good book to read for those who want to look back on a time and a culture that still branded women for sexual conduct that was almost expected of boys to become men. It was not a good time for women, especially for those who became pregnant without the wedding band on their left hand.
Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has been a Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS. She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart. As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public. Daily is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well. A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.
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