The Girls Who Went Away Book Summary - The Girls Who Went Away Book explained in key points

The Girls Who Went Away summary

Ann Fessler

Brief summary

The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler is a powerful and heartbreaking account of the experiences of women who were forced to relinquish their babies for adoption in the mid-20th century. It sheds light on a hidden chapter in American history and the lasting impact it had on these women.

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    The Girls Who Went Away
    Summary of key ideas

    The Untold Stories of Surrendered Mothers

    In The Girls Who Went Away, Ann Fessler delves into the untold stories of women who surrendered their children for adoption in the mid-20th century. The book begins with the author's personal story, revealing her own experience as an adopted child and her journey to understand her birth mother's decision to give her up.

    Fessler then expands her focus to include the experiences of countless other women who found themselves in similar situations. She conducted interviews with over 100 women who had surrendered their children for adoption during the 1950s and 1960s, a time when premarital sex was heavily stigmatized, and single motherhood was considered shameful.

    The Pressure to Surrender

    Through these interviews, Fessler uncovers the societal pressures and expectations that forced these women to give up their babies. Many of them were sent away to maternity homes, isolated from their families and communities, and coerced into signing adoption papers. They were often told that they were unfit to raise their children and that giving them up was the best option for everyone involved.

    These women's stories reveal the emotional trauma and lasting impact of this experience. They describe the pain of separation, the shame they felt, and the silence they were forced to maintain about their past. Fessler's work brings to light the hidden history of these women, who were often forgotten or dismissed by society.

    The Aftermath of Surrender

    After exploring the circumstances that led to the surrender of their children, The Girls Who Went Away delves into the aftermath of this decision. Fessler reveals that many of these women were haunted by their choice for decades, struggling with feelings of guilt, grief, and loss. Some went on to marry and have other children, keeping their past a secret, while others remained single, unable to move on from the trauma.

    Furthermore, Fessler highlights the impact of these surrenders on the children who were given up for adoption. Many of them grew up feeling abandoned and unloved, unaware of the societal forces that led to their separation from their birth mothers. The book emphasizes the need for greater understanding and empathy towards these women and their children.

    Reclaiming Their Stories

    In the final section of The Girls Who Went Away, Fessler explores the women's journey towards reclaiming their stories. Over time, many of them began to speak out about their experiences, challenging the societal norms that had silenced them for so long. They formed support groups, shared their stories in public forums, and advocated for changes in adoption laws and practices.

    By sharing their stories, these women not only found healing for themselves but also helped to shed light on a dark chapter in American history. Fessler's book serves as a powerful testament to their resilience and courage, and a call for greater understanding and compassion towards all those affected by the adoption process.

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    What is The Girls Who Went Away about?

    The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler is a powerful and eye-opening book that explores the untold stories of women who were forced to give up their babies for adoption in the 1950s and 60s. Through interviews and personal accounts, Fessler sheds light on the societal pressures and stigmas that led to these heartbreaking separations, and the long-term effects it had on the lives of these women.

    The Girls Who Went Away Review

    The Girls Who Went Away (2006) tells the untold stories of women who surrendered their children for adoption during the era of strict societal norms. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through heartbreaking personal accounts, it sheds light on the emotional and psychological impact of losing a child.
    • By exploring the shame and stigma attached to unwed pregnancies, it reveals a hidden chapter of history.
    • With its meticulous research and compassionate storytelling, this book sensitively honors the women's experiences and brings their stories to the forefront.

    Who should read The Girls Who Went Away?

    • Individuals who are interested in women's history and reproductive rights
    • Adoptees and birth mothers who want to understand the impact of adoption on their lives
    • Social workers, counselors, and professionals in the adoption field

    About the Author

    Ann Fessler is an author and visual artist known for her work on the topic of adoption. Her book, The Girls Who Went Away, explores the experiences of women who were forced to give up their children for adoption in the 1950s and 1960s. Fessler's research and interviews with these women shed light on a little-known aspect of American history. Her work has been widely acclaimed and has contributed to a greater understanding of the impact of adoption on both birth parents and adoptees.

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    The Girls Who Went Away FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Girls Who Went Away?

    The main message of The Girls Who Went Away is the untold stories of birth mothers in the 1950s and 1960s forced to surrender their children.

    How long does it take to read The Girls Who Went Away?

    The reading time for The Girls Who Went Away varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Girls Who Went Away a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Girls Who Went Away is a poignant and revealing book that sheds light on a forgotten chapter of American history. It is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of The Girls Who Went Away?

    The author of The Girls Who Went Away is Ann Fessler.

    What to read after The Girls Who Went Away?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Girls Who Went Away, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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