In turn-of-the-20th century Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is a beacon of hope for young women consigned to the dangerous poverty of the streets by birth, circumstance, or personal tragedy. A century later, a reclusive university librarian, uncovers the hidden histories of the two troubled women as she stumbles upon the cemetery on the home’s former grounds and begins to comb through its archives in her library.
Kibler’s new book is mostly historical fiction, so it seems odd to call it 'timely,' but it is. Artfully woven of the ills currently roiling our country, resonating in the era of #MeToo and Jeffrey Epstein and the list is too long to name them all, the issues of Home for Erring and Outcast Girls are age-old. Powerful men protect other powerful men, often with the collusion of wives, and countless women and girls are collateral damage ... Kibler’s research is impeccable ... The pace is quick and steady; action moves fluidly back and forth between the present and the early twentieth century. Kibler is skilled at foreshadowing and organically solving the mysteries, only marred by melodrama in a fleeting few instances. She writes gripping, heart-pounding scenes, then lulls you into a tender scene, which will tug your heartstrings out and tie them into knots. The experience is painful but rewarding ... One of the many joys is the depth of these characters, richly drawn and quite fully human ... deserves to be addressed as an accessible and profound work on the ill treatment of women and girls in this society.
Although Lizzie and Mattie’s narrative arc occasionally meanders, Cate’s chapters are absorbing, and this is a moving, well-researched, character-driven tale sure to be savored by fans of Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours (2017) and Christina Baker Kline’s The Orphan Train (2013).
While these characters may not be as captivating to readers as Calling Me Home's unlikely pair of friends, this tale of resilient women has the varied story lines and well-researched historical background to make it a popular book club selection.