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If You Liked The Home for Unwanted Girls...


If you enjoyed 2019's One Book One Community selection, The Home for Unwanted Girls, or would like to explore the themes of this story through further reading, you might also enjoy these other books from the Idea Exchange collections. These include an account of a mother's quest to find her long-lost son, riveting stories of young orphans making their way in the world, and collections detailing the secret histories of seeds and flowers. For more information about One Book One Community, the annual book club for everyone in the Waterloo Region, visit

Kline, Christina Baker
Orphan train

"Christina Baker Kline’s #1 New York Times bestselling novel—the captivating story of a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to long-buried questions."

Sixsmith, Martin.

"When she became pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to a convent to be looked after as a “fallen woman.” Then the nuns took her baby from her and sold him, like thousands of others, to America for adoption. Fifty years later, Philomena decided to find him."

Wingate, Lisa.
Before we were yours

"Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth..."

Chamberlain, Diane
The stolen marriage

"It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina."

Rothman, Claire
My October

"Luc Lévesque is a celebrated Quebec novelist and the anointed Voice of a Generation. In his hometown of Montreal, he is revered as much for his novels about the working-class neighbourhood of Saint-Henri as for his separatist views. But this is 2001. The dreams of a new nation are dying, and Luc himself is increasingly dissatisfied with his life. Hannah is Luc's wife...She has also spent her adult life distancing herself from her English-speaking family. But at what cost? Hugo is their troubled fourteen-year-old son...In confusion and anger, he commits a reckless act that puts everyone around him on a collision course with the past."

O'Neill, Heather
The lonely hearts hotel

Set in Montreal and New York between the wars, a spellbinding story about two gifted orphans--in love with each other since childhood--whose unusual magnetism and talent allow them to imagine a sensational future.

Barbeau-Lavalette, Anaïs

"Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette never knew her grandmother Suzanne, an artist who abandoned her husband and children in her youth and never looked back. This novel is a fictionalized account of Suzanne's life over 85 years, taking readers through Québecs Quiet Revolution and the American civil rights movement, offering a portrait of a volatile woman on the margins of history."

Kelly, Martha Hall.
Lilac girls

"Inspired by actual events and real people, Martha Hall Kelly has woven together the stories of three women during World War II that reveal the bravery, cowardice, and cruelty of those days. This is a part of history--women's history--that should never be forgotten."--Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of China Dolls"--Provided by publisher.

MacLennan, Hugh
Two solitudes

" 'Northwest of Montreal, through a valley always in sight of the low mountains of the Laurentian Shield, the Ottawa River flows out of Protestant Ontario into Catholic Quebec. It comes down broad and ale-coloured and joins the Saint Lawrence, the two streams embrace the pan of Montreal Island, the Ottawa merges and loses itself, and the main-stream moves northeastward a thousand miles to sea.' With these words Hugh MacLennan begins his powerful saga of Athanase Tallard, the son of an aristocratic French-Canadian tradition, of Kathleen, his beautiful Irish wife, and of their son Paul, who struggles to establish a balance in himself and in the country he calls home."

McKay, Ami
The birth house

Practicing midwife Dora Rare works in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia during the early part of the twentieth century, but the midwifery tradition is threatened when medical doctor Gilbert Thomas arrives with promises of fast, painless childbirth.

Jenoff, Pam.
The orphan's tale

"Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. In a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night."

Bothwell, Robert
Canada and Quebec

Through interviews with a wide variety of politicians, journalists, and academics, Robert Bothwell skillfully weaves together a coherent account of the relationship between Canada and Quebec.

Scoble, Gretchen.
The meaning of flowers

"From ancient days, long before words complicated what we say to one another, flowers have been our messengers, invested with our most cherished feelings. Illustrated with luscious collages by acclaimed artist Ann Field, this enchanting tribute to the power and symbolism of flowers offers a contemporary introduction to an age-old tradition."

Powers, Ron.
No one cares about crazy people

"New York Times bestselling author Ron Powers offers a searching, richly researched narrative of the social history of mental illness in America paired with the deeply personal story of his two sons' battles with schizophrenia...A blend of history, biography, memoir, and current affairs ending with a consideration of where we might go from here, this is a thought-provoking look at a dreaded illness that has long been misunderstood."

Hanson, Thor.
The triumph of seeds

"We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life: supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe...Seeds are fundamental objects of beauty, evolutionary wonders, and simple fascinations. Yet, despite their importance, seeds are often seen as commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more."

Armstrong, Karen
Through the narrow gate

"Through the Narrow Gate is Karen Armstrong's intimate memoir of life inside a Catholic convent. With refreshing honesty and clarity, the book takes readers on a revelatory adventure that begins with Armstrong's decision in the course of her spiritual training offers a fascinating view into a shrouded religious life."

Goodman, Joanna
The home for unwanted girls

This is the One Book, One Community book for 2019 and the inspiration for this book list. A heart-wrenching family saga set in Quebec in the 1950s, the novel tells the story of a mother's quest to be reunited with the daughter her traditional parents forced her to give up for adoption. It also recounts a tragic period in the province's history, an era when orphaned children taken in by the Church were brought up in asylums for the mentally ill.