The Forgotten Daughter – 3 Star Review

“Love has nothing to prove; only humans do.” – Joanna Goodman, The Forgotten Daughter

Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Forgotten Daughter is Joanna Goodman’s newest novel that is slated to release on October 27th, 2020 as of the time of this review. Goodman wrote “The Home for Unwanted Girls” prior to this novel and it absolutely blew me away. I recommended that book to everyone that would listen, and still do! The Forgotten Daughter was written as a stand-alone, however we do catch-up and follow one of the main characters from ‘Unwanted Girls”, Elodie. This novel does give a very surface-level overview of Elodie’s history so that if a reader is picking this up first, they have enough information to enjoy the novel and not feel lost or confused. However, I would strongly urge you to read The Home for Unwanted Girls before picking up The Forgotten Daughter. You will have much more context surrounding Elodie’s part of the story and feel more connected to it.

This novel starts by following a young girl named Véronique who is awaiting the return of an estranged father in 1982. Her father was jailed for a murder he participated in while leading a political separatist group in the 1970s. We jump forward a little and watch as Véronique follows in her father’s footsteps in the attempt and support Quebec separating from Canada due to unfair treatment of the French-descendant citizens. Véronique meets a handsome young man who is on the other side of the political fence and does not want Quebec to leave, James. James is also Elodie’s sister. We change point of views between Véronique and James’s relationship and between Elodie’s journey on joining a coalition demanding justice and reparations for all the orphans (including herself) that were mistreated and unjustly labeled as mentally incompetent in the 1950’s. Elodie becomes a great comfort to Véronique as they both try to come to terms with familial bonds and political injustices.

I enjoyed reading this book and never once did I have the urge to skim sections or chapters. The story progresses nicely and the characters meld together in an appropriate fashion. I did find this novel to be lacking the emotional punch that I expected, which is why I ended up rating it as I did. The Home for Unwanted Girls was jaw dropping and set the bar pretty high for a follow-up book. The Forgotten Daughter just didn’t quite reach it. Véronique struggles to find her place in the world while having to constantly be under the shadow of her father’s reputation. Mix that with a boyfriend she deeply loves, but one who also challenges her political views and it’s a recipe for a slow-burning fracture. Elodie’s portion of the story was interesting to me because I knew the depth of her tragic history as a young orphan, so I was invested to see how it would end for her. Without knowing this though, I can’t imagine that her story would have the same impact on new readers. This story is one that I was glad to have read, but not one that will stick with me for a long period of time like it’s predecessor.

Review by Kelly

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