Philadelphia, 1883. Twenty-three-year-old Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on a completely unexpected path. Unwed mothers in 1883 face staggering prejudice, yet Lilli refuses to give up her baby girl. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep the two of them alive.
Lilli confides this story to her diary as it unfolds, taking readers from a charity for unwed mothers to a wealthy family’s home and onto the streets of a burgeoning American city. Her story offers a rare and harrowing view into a time when a mother’s milk is crucial for infant survival. Written with startling intimacy and compassion, this accomplished novel is both a rich historical depiction and a testament to the saving force of a woman’s love.
“So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”
“A STRIKING HISTORICAL AND FEMINIST DEBUT THAT HIGHLIGHTS THE POWER OF MOTHERHOOD AND HONORS THE SILENT STRENGTH OF WOMEN.”— BUSTLE
- One of Library Journal‘s Best Books 2017, Historical Fiction
- One of National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2017
- Bustle, The 17 Best Debut Novels by Women in 2017
- Finalist, The Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction 2017
- A Goodreads Semifinalist, Choice Awards 2017, Historical Fiction
- One of Amazon’s Best Books of May 2017 in Literature/Fiction
- Book Club Books 2017, selected for InStyle UK by Erin Woodward, Girly Book Club
- One of Pure Wow Book Club’s Books to Read in May
- One of Barnes and Noble’s Nook Book READOUTS in Fiction
- Summer Book Pick from Book Bub, libraries, newspapers, and others.
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