Forgotten Children deals with the loss of children on several levels through varying circumstances.
Little more than a child herself, Emily Carpenter gives birth at sixteen and is forced to give her son up for adoption.
Consumed with grief and feeling betrayed by her parents, Emily runs away and begins a new life on her own, and consequentially, the Carpenters lose their daughter.
Though she moves on, Emily never forgot about her child. I would go as far to say that even though she becomes a successful author of children’s books, Emily suffers from recurring depression for nearly twenty years.
Another devastating loss sets Emily on the path to search for the son she was forced to give up.
Best friend Geraldine (Gee) has been friend, family and support network to Emily for twenty years and continues to have her back…and tell her things Emily may not want to hear. Gee’s past is no less painful and tragic as Emily’s, but that doesn’t stop her from always helping Emily to make peace with the past and move forward… something Gee, herself will never do.
During her search to find peace and her son Emily meets Walter and Patrick, two very different young men battling demons from the past of their own and she could be the link to their unanswered question, and a young widow and her son provide a much-needed emotional grounding for the distracted author.
But Emily’s biggest obstacle is her mother, Florence Carpenter. After two awkward visits, Emily knows her mother has the information she needs to find her son. But anger and bitter hatred of her mother and her religious fanaticism have festered inside Emily for two decades and I didn’t see her reconciling with her mother anytime in this life. However, when Florence explains why she insisted Emily give her son up, Emily realizes she’s been wrong about a lot of things. Nice plot twist.
Her hope for finding the child she named Thomas is snatched away when Emily learns he could be anywhere on the planet because of an unspoken practice Britain used to empty its orphanages. She accepts that Thomas is lost to her but channels her heartbreak into helping others find lost family… which goes full circle and opens up possibilities for Emily’s search to continue.
Loss, forgiveness, and acceptance are well-handled themes throughout the story. Some people are forgiven and accepted, others not so much. But Mark, Emily’s boyfriend deserved better than what he got. I felt Emily was selfish and cold to simply walk away. Another loss compounded Emily’s already fragile mind and would eventually propel her forward, but Mark lost something too and Emily pushed his feelings aside all too easily and that half-assed letter she later wrote was too little, too late. And did she even mail it?
Engrossing and emotional read. It was hard enough reading how the loss of a child affected each character, but learning of a country’s horrid, heartless disposal of children entrusted into its care for economic reasons, and the abuse and suffering those children endured was heartbreaking. It’s not an easy read, but it is a compelling one and I do recommend it.
A woman’s search to find her son uncovers the shocking truth about one of Britain’s darkest periods
Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt that threatens to consume her. For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born. But now, in the summer of 1987, she decides to begin the search for her son.
Emily takes refuge in a small town on the Isle of Anglesey to plan the search, where she meets Walter, a gentle stranger, who helps her with his words of wisdom and kindness. But it is when she decides to return home to Hastings, that she really has to face her demons.
Estranged from her parents when she was just sixteen, Emily is shocked by what her mother has to tell her about events that occurred before Emily was even born.
Beside her, throughout her search, is Emily’s beautiful Irish friend, Geraldine, recovering from her own sad experiences. Together they uncover a truth that shocks them all.
The Forgotten Children draws the reader into lives affected by narrow-minded beliefs and blinkered thinking at the highest level. Children who weren’t allowed to be born, children who were abandoned, and children who were taken, forced to lead a life thousands of miles away from everyone and everything they knew – leaving scars that may never heal.
At its heart, The Forgotten Children is a story of survival, but the journey that Emily has to take is painful. Even more so because she knows it was allowed to happen by individuals, religions and governments, who should have known better.