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Reviewed by Kathy Golden for Readers' Favorite
Gloria Weinberg’s Child of Sorrow is a fictional account of a true story. In 1959, in Clewiston, Florida, seventeen-year-old “Vicki Bayle,” attractive, smart, and dreaming of doing something remarkable with her life, becomes pregnant. By the time her parents learn of her pregnancy, it’s too late for Vicki to have an abortion. Yet the attitudes and morality of the day won’t allow her to remain in the community as an unwed mother. In a residence for pregnant, unmarried girls, readers meet Vicki and others like her, all living as social outcasts. In this house for the disgraced, some three hundred miles from her parent’s home, Vicki and the baby in her womb develop that bond between mother and child that is destined to be severed.
When viewing the book’s cover, I couldn't help but think that seldom has an image so compelling capture the ambiance of a time and place. The sepia tones of the house called Safe Haven are harbingers of an environment where the inhabitants are treated like pictures with all the vibrant colors muted. Unlike unwed mothers of today, these girls aren't allowed to decorate a room in either fluffy pink or sky blue. Instead, they are admonished to become as detached from their unborn babies as surrogates. They live a rigid and disciplined life, and the highly anticipated delivery date of married women is for these young mothers, the date that will set them free and allow them once again to be acceptable citizens.
Yet despite these circumstances, readers will not find Vicki Bayle’s account of day-to-day life too depressing to read. Through her voice, they’ll share a wide spectrum of experiences: curiosity, friendship, splashes of humor and mischievousness, indifference, compassion, and inevitably, sorrow — for what other fruit can the forced and painful separation of a mother from her child yield? I encourage all to read this story. It doesn't matter that it speaks of practices and incidents that occurred over fifty years ago. Gloria Weinberg’s Child of Sorrow is larger than its history. It is an engaging record of the natural human capacity to adapt rather than be crushed and to love with a hope and a perseverance that leads to long sought-after closure.