The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe
Genre: Historical Fiction
The time and place is post WW2 Europe. Families are busy morning the losses of their beloved fathers, brothers and sons all while trying to build the fractured pieces of their family life back together. Rita and Rosie Stevens are only nine and five years old when their recently war widowed mother marries a mean and abusive man named Jimmy Randall. When Mavis finds out that she is now pregnant with her third child, Jimmy becomes increasingly more insistent that the girls, Rita and Rosie, are not only disobedient but also a finical burden that the growing family can no longer afford. Because Mavis is caught in the throws of grief, depression and a very abusive relationship…she agrees to sign her two daughters over to an orphanage in England. In her mind, this will only be a temporary situation until she can convince Jimmy that the girls will not be a burden and that she can, in fact, manage to be a good mother to all three children. Unbeknownst to her, the papers that she signed were not temporary and in doing so…she relinquished all legal and custodial rights to her two daughters.
Not long after the children begin to get accustomed to life in a group home with very strict and sometimes cruel rules….the find out that they are being moved to a new orphanage in Australia. While the girls, along with dozens of other English children, are on a 6 week ocean liner trip across the world, Mavis…still believing that her daughters are in England…is losing her grip on her ability to mother a new, needy baby while dealing with her controlling and abusive husband.
The Throwaway Children is a sad and tragic Historical Fiction novel about the “forgotten children” of post WW2 Europe. This type of book is a great example of why I love the Historical Fiction genre so much…this is the first I had ever heard of or read about England’s practice of secretly shipping off their orphans to Australia. Most of the time, without anyone knowing and often to never be heard from again. It was an interesting but sad story that kept me engaged most of the time and found it heart wrenching and heart warming at the same time.
I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit even though I did have a few small issues with it: At some points, I found the pacing of this novel a little odd. There were particular parts that seemed to drag on a little too long with a tad too much detail… and then others that seemed to be rushed through. I also felt like the ending was a little too perfectly wrapped up for how tragic the earlier parts were. However…those issues weren’t huge and overall, the story was a good one that I found both interesting and informative.
I liked all the characters and the story itself. I just wish the pacing was a tad different and the ending not so “perfect”….but those are just tiny little picky issues that likely won’t even bother other readers. Because most books in this genre, especially the WW2 era books, can have a rather depressing theme and undertone, some people shy away from them. This particular book does have it’s sad moments, but the ending leaves you feeling hopeful and not sad or depressed.
If you are a fan of the Historical Fiction genre…this would be a good choice for you. And…if you have and read on a Kindle, Amazon has The Throwaway Children e-book on sale right now for only $1.99 (regularly $9.99)
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars