Lilli de Jong

Lilli de Jong

by Janet Benton

Overview: A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family's home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. "So little is permissible for a woman," writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”.

Faith Bowers (10/29/19): I liked this book but did not like the last 1/3 as much. The premise is to be an unwed mother before the 20th century. How is it possible to keep your child and how little there is available for unwed mothers. It takes place with a Quaker family in Philadelphia so I recognized the locations. As the reader you are trying to come up with alternatives then the horrible options available. You are taken on her journey with all her mistakes. It is resolved in the end but with no real answers of the possibility of raising your child without a husband at that time.
Rating: ***

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