Growing up in New York City in the 1910s, Luella and Effie Tildon realize that even as wealthy young women, their freedoms come with limits. But when the sisters discover a shocking secret about their father, Luella, the brazen elder sister, becomes emboldened to do as she pleases. Her rebellion comes with consequences, and one morning Luella is mysteriously gone.
At first unhinged and unstable, Jeanne finds her voice and strength, eventually shedding more than one protective skin. Emory suffers too, but his sorrow feels disappointingly devoid of remorse; he’s the least-formed character in Burdick’s world, so it’s hard to muster much sympathy for his travails ... concludes in crescendo so fever-pitched that the last page seems to come too soon. Nevertheless, Burdick has spun a cautionary tale of struggle and survival, love and family — and above all, the strength of the heart, no matter how broken.
... a wonderful read, from the unique stories of wayward children sent to live under the harsh control of nuns to the cruelty of young girls that find themselves there, even to the woman spearheading the suffrage movement, left to feel the judgment of a male-dominated society. Although the book covers some difficult topics, such as runaways, class divide, and poverty, I still found the story to hold my interest throughout. While The Girls With No Names started out as a slow burn, showing off the dynamics of life before the metaphorical storm hit, it slowly turned into a story that I did not expect in the slightest.
Told by three alternating narrators, Burdick’s carefully researched narrative shines a light on the untold stories of countless real women, and fans of Joanna Goodman’s The Home for Unwanted Girls (2018) will be consumed by the fast-paced plot and well-characterized, sympathetic girls at the novel’s heart.