At a special event at Trillium Lutheran & Elevation Church (on the site of Willow Hall, the former orphanage for Kitchener-Waterloo) in spring, the One Book, One Community committee announced that the 2019 selection is The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman.
The Home for Unwanted Girls is set in 1950s Quebec, a time when the relationship between the French and the English was strained. This atmosphere was reflected in Maggie Hughes’ home where her English-speaking father, “The Seed Man”, had great ambitions for his daughter and those plans most certainly did not include her marrying the poor French farm boy who had captured her heart. When the teenage Maggie becomes pregnant, she is forced to give the baby up for adoption. The child, Elodie, is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. Elodie’s life and indeed her future will be in jeopardy when a new law providing more funding to psychiatric hospitals rather than orphanages sees thousands of orphans falsely declared as mentally ill. The Home for Unwanted Girls is a suspenseful, provocative novel set in a dark time in Quebec’s history. You will not be able to put it down.
Joanna Goodman, a rising literary star in Canada, is the author of five novels. The Home for Unwanted Girls was #8 on the Indigo Top 10 Bestselling Canadian Books of 2018 and spent 32 weeks on national bestseller lists. Originally from Montreal, she now lives in Toronto with her husband and two kids and is the CEO of Au Lit Fine Linens. Goodman is currently working on the sequel to The Home for Unwanted Girls. Joanna Goodman sent greetings to One Book One Community and the readers of Waterloo Region via video.
One Book, One Community, now in its 18th year, is the longest running community reading program in Canada. “OBOC”, as it is fondly referred to, celebrates the books and writing of Canadian authors. Through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book, OBOC has helped create a special sense of community in the Region.
“Our steering committee agreed that Joanna’s book focused on a period of Quebec history that is not readily discussed or even known about.” says Natalie Gibbons, Chair of One Book, One Community. “The story encompasses a very real part of Canadian history that needs to be discussed and is in fact very timely given current events in Canada. The Home for Unwanted Girls is a very readable and memorable novel that you will not soon forget after the last page is turned.”