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The House Children

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In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye o In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway. At the tender age of thirteen, Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birthmother. Peg struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock. The tension between them mounts as Peg, now becoming a young adult, begins to make plans for her future beyond Ireland. Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools.


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In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye o In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway. At the tender age of thirteen, Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birthmother. Peg struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock. The tension between them mounts as Peg, now becoming a young adult, begins to make plans for her future beyond Ireland. Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools.

30 review for The House Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)

    Mary Margaret Joyce was born at the Tuam Home in Ireland. This institution was one of the few options for unwed mothers during the 1930s. Abandoned by her mother, she spends time in foster care until moving to an industrial boarding school at age five. There she was renamed Peg because too many children were already named Mary. She learns skills at the industrial school and eventually develops deep bonds with a group of friends. Her simple life takes a turn when she discovers she was placed ther Mary Margaret Joyce was born at the Tuam Home in Ireland. This institution was one of the few options for unwed mothers during the 1930s. Abandoned by her mother, she spends time in foster care until moving to an industrial boarding school at age five. There she was renamed Peg because too many children were already named Mary. She learns skills at the industrial school and eventually develops deep bonds with a group of friends. Her simple life takes a turn when she discovers she was placed there as an illegitimate child. By accident, Peg finds out the identity of her birth mother. She is both angry and sad that she missed out on being raised in a loving home and struggles on how to move forward. Peg slowly begins to understand the shame of an unwed mother during this period and makes moves to mend her broken ties. The House Children is a debut novel by Heidi Daniele. This book is based on real events, giving a glimpse into Irish life during a conservative period. I am hoping this story sprouts a sequel.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather Frimmer

    I had the honor of meeting the author and receiving an early reader copy of her debut historical fiction novel. The House Children follows a young orphan named Mary Margaret Joyce from early childhood to age eighteen. When she is five, Mary is assigned to live in an industrial girl and renamed Peg (there are too many Marys there already). Despite the difficult conditions, she forms a makeshift family of sorts with the other girls in the home. Every summer, she is sent to spend a week with Norah I had the honor of meeting the author and receiving an early reader copy of her debut historical fiction novel. The House Children follows a young orphan named Mary Margaret Joyce from early childhood to age eighteen. When she is five, Mary is assigned to live in an industrial girl and renamed Peg (there are too many Marys there already). Despite the difficult conditions, she forms a makeshift family of sorts with the other girls in the home. Every summer, she is sent to spend a week with Norah Hanley and her frankly. As Peg grows older and wiser, she begins to question who Norah is and why she continues inviting her to spend time in her home. This is a character driven novel with straight forward, beautifully evocative writing. Peg is a great character and I enjoyed reading along to find out how she would mature and where life would take her. The author did a wonderful job incorporating her extensive research into the story. I knew nothing about the industrial schools beforehand and I came away with a lot of new knowledge about the topic. Fans of Kate Morton and Brooklyn by Colm Toibin will love this book. Heidi Daniele is a wonderful new voice on the historical fiction scene.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John Marszalkowski

    Author Heidi Daniele has the power with her writing to transport the reader to another time and place so effortlessly in her premier book The House Children. One can't help but feel like they are on this journey alongside the main character, who is renamed Peg and assigned a number at an industrial school early in the story. I'm only partway into this book so far, but I can already tell it's a winner. I'll update my review if my mind changes by the end, but I don't think it will. Also, very good cove Author Heidi Daniele has the power with her writing to transport the reader to another time and place so effortlessly in her premier book The House Children. One can't help but feel like they are on this journey alongside the main character, who is renamed Peg and assigned a number at an industrial school early in the story. I'm only partway into this book so far, but I can already tell it's a winner. I'll update my review if my mind changes by the end, but I don't think it will. Also, very good cover design, formatting, print quality... ebooks are nice and all, but this paperback is wonderful in its tangible form!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    I so wanted to love this book. I expected a strongly atmospheric, emotionally intense story. What I got was more like a child's journal written in hindsight by the adult. The story has its moments, but I never truly felt it. The book is written in first person, from the perspective of Mary Margaret Joyce from the age of four through to her later teens. The chapters are divided into multiple short sections, with many no more than a paragraph and others a page or so long. As I mentioned I so wanted to love this book. I expected a strongly atmospheric, emotionally intense story. What I got was more like a child's journal written in hindsight by the adult. The story has its moments, but I never truly felt it. The book is written in first person, from the perspective of Mary Margaret Joyce from the age of four through to her later teens. The chapters are divided into multiple short sections, with many no more than a paragraph and others a page or so long. As I mentioned, these read like journal entries but with the distance of an adult's perspective. Consequently, the content feels choppy, slightly removed, and often repetitive, because the child's life in the orphanage is structured and full of repetition. For me, the story would have worked better if an adult narrator had been added to offer more insight and depth. My complaints are specific to me. The writing is good, and the story offers an unsettling glimpse into how the children of unwed mothers were once treated. *I received a review copy from Sparkpress, via a BookishFirst giveaway.*

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kaileigh

    I received this book through a Gooodreads Giveaway. "The House Children", Heidi Daniele's debut novel follows the life of Mary Margaret Joyce while living in an industrial school for girls. In Ireland it was against the law and very frowned upon to have a baby out of wedlock, so the babies were taken from their mothers and put into foster care until they were six years old. That is when they get put in the industrial school. I won't go into too much detail because I refuse to give spo I received this book through a Gooodreads Giveaway. "The House Children", Heidi Daniele's debut novel follows the life of Mary Margaret Joyce while living in an industrial school for girls. In Ireland it was against the law and very frowned upon to have a baby out of wedlock, so the babies were taken from their mothers and put into foster care until they were six years old. That is when they get put in the industrial school. I won't go into too much detail because I refuse to give spoilers! haha This book is STUNNING. It had me hooked from the very start and it only got better. As someone with Irish blood running through her veins I found myself texting my mother (the full blooded Irish lady) and asking her all these questions about the Nuns are why they treated the girls so poorly. It shocked me but also taught me so much! I've been to Dublin and this book made me want to travel back ASAP. I can't wait to read Heidi Daniele's future work!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paige Green

    Disclaimer: I received this book from SparkPress. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book Series: standalone Rating: 4/5 Publication Date: April 9, 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction Recommended Age: 15+ (sexual assault, TW suicide, TW abuse) Publisher: SparkPress Pages: 300 Amazon Link Synopsis: In 1937 Disclaimer: I received this book from SparkPress. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book Series: standalone Rating: 4/5 Publication Date: April 9, 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction Recommended Age: 15+ (sexual assault, TW suicide, TW abuse) Publisher: SparkPress Pages: 300 Amazon Link Synopsis: In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway.  At the tender age of thirteen, Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birthmother. Peg struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock. The tension between them mounts as Peg, now becoming a young adult, begins to make plans for her future beyond Ireland.  Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools. Review: I thought this book was moving and poetic. It was raw and it gave an unashamed look at Ireland’s unfair laws regarding unwed mothers and their out-of-wedlock children. The children, and the mothers, were victims of a system that was so focused on stomping out any and all “sin” that it forgot about the people it left behind in its wake. In my personal opinion, this is a good example of what happens when you have a country that is ruled by a lot of people who think the same way. They don’t have that devil’s advocate to suggest/argue the opposite view and so laws like these get passed. I’m sure it worked some to help statistically take down unwed mothers and “bastard” children, it probably also helped in raising secret abortions and infanticide. I grew up in a very conservative county and being a teenage mother was always (and still is) heavily frowned upon. A girl that went to my school found herself pregnant. She wore baggy clothes and didn’t tell her parents. She had the baby in secret and, from what I heard from friends who knew her, tried to kill the child to hide her “sin”. While having a child at a young age or outside a solid relationship isn’t ideal, the mothers and children shouldn’t fear being punished by others for existing. And, if I’m so frank, teen/unwed sex has happened since the dawn of time. As long as there has been people, there has been sex. You’re never going to create enough laws/policies to rid pregnancy from those society deems “undeserving” of the miracle. It happens and the sooner we all realize it and work to help all pregnant women without prejudice in whatever they need or desire, the better in my opinion. If I had to say some negatives about the book, it would be the abrupt end of the book and some of the mysteries of some of the other characters. I also wish that the book didn’t play it safe with one character. I wish that the main character was in a bit more danger and that her life wasn’t so coincidental. Verdict: A marvelous read!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Jenkinson

    I thoroughly enjoyed this gem of a book. Set in Ireland in the 1940’s, this debut novel has a Jane Eyre feel - which happens to be my favorite book. Mary Margaret Joyce was born in a home for unwed mothers. She was cared for in a foster home and later sentenced to an industrial school for girls run by strict nuns. Mary Margaret becomes “Peg” when the nuns decide they have too many girls named Mary. The unwanted girls are known as the “house children” when mixed with childre I thoroughly enjoyed this gem of a book. Set in Ireland in the 1940’s, this debut novel has a Jane Eyre feel - which happens to be my favorite book. Mary Margaret Joyce was born in a home for unwed mothers. She was cared for in a foster home and later sentenced to an industrial school for girls run by strict nuns. Mary Margaret becomes “Peg” when the nuns decide they have too many girls named Mary. The unwanted girls are known as the “house children” when mixed with children from the town for school. Education is a precious commodity for the house children and very few are allowed to advance beyond reading and writing. Every summer Peg is given a one week holiday with a kind family several towns away. Over the years she develops relationships within the family, including two “aunties” and a handsome boy who live in America. Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birth mother which sets her on a course for finding where she could belong and the overwhelming desire to leave Ireland for America. I was afraid this would be a difficult book to read. Children suffering are tough plots for me to stick with but the author handled the subject with care, balancing bleakness with small triumphs and friendships. If you enjoyed Jane Eyre or The Heart’s Invisible Furies, you should also enjoy The House Children. Thank you to @booksparks and @the.house.children for the chance to read and review this book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joseph McGinley

    I found this to be a page-turner, and a fulfilling and rewarding read. Given the particular setting, I was worried that it might be a harrowing read - but it isn't. It was a pleasure to read, and easy to become engrossed in. It's mostly set in several locations around my home town and County - Galway. As an avid local historian, I was delighted by the accuracy and attention to detail. For me, this helped to make it a very authentic portrayal of Galway at that time. I've rea I found this to be a page-turner, and a fulfilling and rewarding read. Given the particular setting, I was worried that it might be a harrowing read - but it isn't. It was a pleasure to read, and easy to become engrossed in. It's mostly set in several locations around my home town and County - Galway. As an avid local historian, I was delighted by the accuracy and attention to detail. For me, this helped to make it a very authentic portrayal of Galway at that time. I've read about people whose lives were affected by institutions in Ireland such as Tuam Mother and Baby Home, Industrial Schools, and convent schools. This book has helped me a lot, to understand the plight of people who were in those situations, to understand the social context, and to make an emotional connection with them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Adriana Gabrielle

    Once I was able to get a grasp on how the date/time jumped around a bit in the book I found it to be a very compellingly beautiful story! It was definitely a page-turner from beginning to end and a book that made me feel ALL the emotions. I loved how the book started off so dark and hopeless and grew to something full of hope. For me I love books like that where a hopeless situation is turned on its head and becomes one full of hope and joy. I was given a copy to review in Once I was able to get a grasp on how the date/time jumped around a bit in the book I found it to be a very compellingly beautiful story! It was definitely a page-turner from beginning to end and a book that made me feel ALL the emotions. I loved how the book started off so dark and hopeless and grew to something full of hope. For me I love books like that where a hopeless situation is turned on its head and becomes one full of hope and joy. I was given a copy to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    CR

    My Review: Although to start this one was slightly hard to follow. As it got going it unfolded much better. I finally got a grasp on what was going on and this turned into a very compelling story about hardship and family. When you have nothing you don't really think that you should have anything. This story started out so dark and then became something of hope.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Stefano

    I just loved this book! It was such a quick read for me as I read it in less than a day. It was written so eloquently and about a subject so many Irish Americans are really unaware of. My own relatives would never speak of that time period and experiences of living in Ireland. The author does a great job portraying the reality of what people suffered without harshly criticizing the Catholic Church. She leaves it up to the reader to decide if they want to delve more into learning about the indust I just loved this book! It was such a quick read for me as I read it in less than a day. It was written so eloquently and about a subject so many Irish Americans are really unaware of. My own relatives would never speak of that time period and experiences of living in Ireland. The author does a great job portraying the reality of what people suffered without harshly criticizing the Catholic Church. She leaves it up to the reader to decide if they want to delve more into learning about the industrial schools and/or the Catholic Church in Ireland at that time. The story shows how dire it was for so many women during that time period and explains their hope for a better life in America. However, it is not written so sad that you will cry throughout the story (which is something I worried about based on the subject matter.) It is funny, charming, and warm throughout most of the story. The writer describes each of the characters so perfectly! But the story does so much more. It highlights life and the beautiful and not so beautiful relationships people build over their lifetimes. It shows no matter how dire your circumstance, you can have friendships and bonds that will help you bare any circumstance. It shows that there are two sides to every story, Peg who felt abandoned and her Mom who truly thought she was doing the best she could with the situation. I also love that it is written in such a way that the reader cannot clearly take either side. Reading this story, I flipped back and forth in my mind taking different sides at times until the end when you realize it is just people trying to make the best of their circumstance. I hope to see a prequel or sequel some day!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Schraufnagel

    [ Synopsis ] In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway. At the tender age [ Synopsis ]⁣ ⁣ In 1937, Mary Margaret Joyce is born in the Tuam Home for unwed mothers. After spending her early years in an uncaring foster home, she is sentenced by a judge to an industrial school, where she is given the name Peg, and assigned the number 27. Amid one hundred other unwanted girls, Peg quickly learns the rigid routine of prayer, work, and silence under the watchful eye of Sister Constance. Her only respite is an annual summer holiday with a kind family in Galway. At the tender age of thirteen, Peg accidentally learns the identity of her birthmother. Peg struggles with feelings of anger and abandonment, while her mother grapples with the shame of having borne a child out of wedlock. The tension between them mounts as Peg, now becoming a young adult, begins to make plans for her future beyond Ireland. Based on actual events, The House Children is a compelling story of familial love, shameful secrets, and life inside Ireland’s infamous industrial schools.⁣ ⁣ ⁣ [ Review ]⁣ ⁣ This is a character driven novel, with a style of writing I really enjoyed. Peg is a great character that you can’t help but root for. I found myself being curious what was going to happen to her in the end, and how she would emotionally deal with all she went through in the industrial school. ⁣ ⁣ Daniele did a great job with her attention to detail of these schools. Being based on a true story, I learned a lot about these schools that I had little to no knowledge of before. It helps you understand the predicament of those who were in the situation, the social context of why, and the hardships the girls faced in the homes. A great historical fiction novel. ⁣ ⁣

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella Brooks

    I received a copy of this book from the author and booksparks, so thanks to them for sending it to me! The House Children was a fast and easy read for me. I really enjoyed the setting and getting to read about these industrial schools because I literally knew nothing about them! I quickly became attached to “Peg” and often times felt her anger/frustration as if it were my own. It’s so easy to see only your point of view in a difficult situation but I was a big fan of seeing Peg work through her I received a copy of this book from the author and booksparks, so thanks to them for sending it to me! The House Children was a fast and easy read for me. I really enjoyed the setting and getting to read about these industrial schools because I literally knew nothing about them! I quickly became attached to “Peg” and often times felt her anger/frustration as if it were my own. It’s so easy to see only your point of view in a difficult situation but I was a big fan of seeing Peg work through her conflicting emotions. All of her emotions felt authentic and valid for what she was dealing with and I enjoyed that the author didn’t rush through them but truly allowed us to see how much she struggled to reconcile those emotions. Overall, this was a solid 4 star read for me and I’d recommend it if you like books that are centered around family struggles!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cayla

    I received this book from Heidi herself and I was so excited to read it! It was a quick read which I liked and just the whole story was good. It was nice reading Peg (Mary Margaret) grow up each year in Industrial School and spending a week in Galway with the Hanley’s. I always wondered what she would do each week she spent with them. It was sad though that all Peg wanted was a family of her own but couldnt have... but finally she finds out who her real mother is and it is heartbreaking but what I received this book from Heidi herself and I was so excited to read it! It was a quick read which I liked and just the whole story was good. It was nice reading Peg (Mary Margaret) grow up each year in Industrial School and spending a week in Galway with the Hanley’s. I always wondered what she would do each week she spent with them. It was sad though that all Peg wanted was a family of her own but couldnt have... but finally she finds out who her real mother is and it is heartbreaking but what had to be done was done in her past. I know for me that would be so hard growing up not knowing who your family is...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linda Edmonds cerullo

    Very poignant and sad novel of life in an Irish Industrial School in the 1940s-50s. Sweet Mary Margaret Joyce is placed in an industrial school by a court. Her mother gave birth to her out-of-wedlock and, due to the strong hold the Catholic Church had on Ireland at that time, this was unacceptable. Her name is changed to Peg, she is given a number (27) and sent to live with the nuns. The treatment by the nuns is deplorable, the anguish caused by their continual reference to her as illegitimate a Very poignant and sad novel of life in an Irish Industrial School in the 1940s-50s. Sweet Mary Margaret Joyce is placed in an industrial school by a court. Her mother gave birth to her out-of-wedlock and, due to the strong hold the Catholic Church had on Ireland at that time, this was unacceptable. Her name is changed to Peg, she is given a number (27) and sent to live with the nuns. The treatment by the nuns is deplorable, the anguish caused by their continual reference to her as illegitimate and therefore unworthy, is excruciating to read. Her dull, work-centered life is relieved only by occasional visits to a couple who live in Galway and once a year in the summer she is allowed to reside with them. These visits lift her spirits enormously. She wants to be a part of them. At least until she finds out who they really are. This book is yet another example of the dangerous hold the Catholic Church had on the people of Ireland and on the adherents of this religion. How any parent could let the Church dictate to them how their children should be treated and that some are "unworthy" is a mystery to me. Another clear warning to watch for signs that your church may be more important than your faith in God. Moving, painful at times, but ultimately an important work of historical fiction. The mistakes of the Church should never be forgotten nor overlooked. These individuals suffered real pain and need to know there is a God Who loves them and would never treat them as despicably as this so-called "One True Church" did.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dyana Hulgan

    I commend Author Heidi Daniele, who has written a memorable book giving insight to a dreadful time in Ireland - for the sentencing of unwed mothers to servitude. Their children were taken away and put in the care of nuns, who were very strict and unloving. This book was very engaging and eye opening! I highly recommend!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kylie Corley

    I won a copy from a giveaway on Goodreads. It was a good historical fiction book, but I kind of felt like it didn't fully reach its potential. The main protagonist was a very strong character who fought to overcome everything life threw at her. It was nice to learn what life was like in Ireland back in the 1900s. All in all, it was a quick and enjoyable read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Peg was born to an unwed mother (a crime) in 1937 Ireland, after being left by her foster family she is sent to an industrial school run by nuns. A family takes her for a holiday visit every year and Peg wants nothing more than to be asked to stay and become part of that family. When she learns the identity of her mother, she struggles to deal with her feelings.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Burns

    Fascinating story with a compelling backdrop. I learned so much about time and place without even knowing I was learning. At it's heart, it is a mother-daughter story, just the type of book I'm drawn to. And it never disappoints -- the story grabs hold of you and doesn't let you go. Kudos to the author!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Diane Cook

    I loved this book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    This was a really quick, good read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dakotah Ady

    I absolutely loved this book. Reading about Peg’s journey through acceptance and life was heartbreaking and beautiful. I felt instantly drawn in and didn’t want to put the book down.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Marshall

    Highly recommended. The author introduces the reader to Peg, who has been sentenced to an industrial school after being born to an unwed mother. Peg has a difficult life, but she has a sense of optimism and a strong sense of determination to change her life and find something better. The story is based on true accounts and the poignancy is not missed on the reader.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Sanchez

    n 1999, author Heidi Daniele attended an event for a family friend in Ballinasloe, Ireland. Others at the event were discussing industrial schools, not knowing what they were Heidi discovered that they were similar to orphanages. The children that lived in these schools were placed, sometimes “sentenced” by judges. The schools were run by religious orders in separate facilities for boys and girls. Many of the children were illegitimate and all lived a harsh life of unpaid labor. The first line o n 1999, author Heidi Daniele attended an event for a family friend in Ballinasloe, Ireland. Others at the event were discussing industrial schools, not knowing what they were Heidi discovered that they were similar to orphanages. The children that lived in these schools were placed, sometimes “sentenced” by judges. The schools were run by religious orders in separate facilities for boys and girls. Many of the children were illegitimate and all lived a harsh life of unpaid labor. The first line of this emotional story is "My birth was a sin and a crime." Heidi’s years of research led to locating women who lived in the industrial schools as children. She fictionalized the women’s stories into one story of Mary Margaret Joyce. Read The House Children to learn more.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    places you in 1930's industrial school Ireland with all the obstacles and resilience that brings with it. It was helpful for me to more fully understand this time and place and what it all might mean to someone in that situation. The story brings you through the early life of someone in that situation and the choices they needed to make to survive it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    The Belle

    Mary Margaret Joyce belongs to no one. And no one belongs to her.  The night she was rescued from a shuttered barn by the friendly face of a young woman she vaguely knew, Mary was sure she'd finally found what she yearned for most in the world - family. The young woman who scooped her up was kind, the words she whispered were calming and easily whisked Mary's fears away in the wind. She felt comfortable in the young woman's home, no matter the cutting looks the woman's pare Mary Margaret Joyce belongs to no one. And no one belongs to her.  The night she was rescued from a shuttered barn by the friendly face of a young woman she vaguely knew, Mary was sure she'd finally found what she yearned for most in the world - family. The young woman who scooped her up was kind, the words she whispered were calming and easily whisked Mary's fears away in the wind. She felt comfortable in the young woman's home, no matter the cutting looks the woman's parents threw her way. The young woman and her sisters seemed happy to have her their, their soft hands making sure that Mary's hair was devoid of any tangles, their brush strokes loving and tender as they dressed her like a doll.  But it wasn't long before the picture shattered like a glass shoved from a table, leaving Mary sadly gazing from the rear window of a car as it made its way down the long, lonely lane. As the image of the kind young woman and her sisters huddled on the front porch grew smaller and smaller, Mary grew more despondent. Where was she going? Had she not been good enough to stay? Was she worth nothing? Peg. Her new name. 27. The number she is identified by. Mary is transformed into one of the House Children, nothing but a number in a line of other numbers. Nothing but a sad girl in a room full of other sad girls. Her new home one with cold floors and stark surroundings, devoid of the warmth that comes with love and affection. The industrial school is run by a pack of nuns, and Mary/Peg will soon find that there is no comfort to be found in their arms.  Within her first few weeks in the industrial school, Peg learns a few key lessons. Don't speak unless spoken to. Don't cry. Be wary when making friends. Don't wet the bed, even in your sleep. Don't expect anything more for your life than poverty and destitution. Don't ever hope for a future anything more than becoming someone's maid or cleaning bedpans at the hospital. House Children are throwaways. They are dispensable, and the fact that Mary has been forced to rid herself of even her own name is irrefutable evidence to that fact. They were unwanted from birth, and they are unwanted now.  She makes a few friends, a few allies - and she finds a few dim rays of sunlight to cling to. Peg's uncanny intelligence does not go unnoticed, and as the months go by, she is called upon by the Sisters to perform special tasks. This special treatment does not go unnoticed by the other House Children, bringing with it a cultivated spread of jealousy and cruelty that Peg cannot avoid. Deep down, Peg does her best to shut the shadows out ... no matter how difficult it is, no matter the things she bears witness to. The tasks she is assigned hold their own brand of encouragement, but nothing is better than the day Peg is told she will be spending one week of the summer on holiday. It's a curious invitation, and one that the other girls in the school are immediately suspicious of.  When Peg steps off the train at the station, her eyes slowly come to focus amidst the lingering smoke and swirling dust. When it all settles, she sees one thing. One person, standing ... her expression hopeful and kind. It is the young woman from Peg's early childhood, the one who saved her.  As the years pass slowly by, Peg spends a week each summer with the Hanley family, watching pensively as it grows from just Norah and her amiable husband to a son and then a baby daughter. The week is one that she initially spends the entire year looking forward to. It begins full of trips to the beach with friends, long afternoons on the playground, visits to the sweet shop, and a choice of ribbons for her hair. But as Peg grows older, she realizes the precarious situation she is in; as one of the House Children, she is illegitimate. She is essentially a sin, with no hope for redemption, even if the sin was not of her own making. After learning that her mother is indeed the young Mrs. Hanley who takes her in once a year in an attempt to balance her grief and guilt over being forced into giving Peg up, Peg begins to stoke a fire wrought of resentment inside of her. The visits become more stifled and difficult, and Peg struggles to forge her own path.  The saving grace of her annual visits is mostly made up of the growing friendship with Norah's sisters ... exotic imports from America who do their best to evoke hope in Peg. With one aunt in particular comes a nice young man who seems interested in who Peg is as a person, rather than what jobs she can accomplish as a cook or a cleaner. He sees through her illegitimacy to the heart of her, and Peg finds herself even more desperate to find a way out of her situation.  As Peg transitions from young girl into a young adult, she begins to take a realistic stock of her environment and curate dreams for the future. She wants to get out of Ireland and travel to America, a land where she is certain she can find stability and a way to truly shake the stigma of being a House Child. She believes herself capable of receiving an adequate education and takes full advantage of the opportunities at the industrial school that are thrown her way in that regard. Most importantly, Peg begins to realize her own worth and yearns to be in possession of her own destiny, instead of leaving it to the Sisters or Mrs. Hanley to figure out for her.  Under the careful guidance of her aunts and a few well-meaning Sisters, Peg becomes one of the lucky ones. But Peg is never able to forget that she was unwanted, and she never forgets that she is ultimately alone. She must find a way to get out of Ireland and find a way to turn her abandonment in to an opportunity.  Based entirely in Ireland, The House Children is the first novel by Heidi Daniele. The novel is based upon true events surrounding the industrial schools in the area during the 1930's, and their subsequent effect on their inhabitants. In browsing the author's biographical blurb, I would be reasonable in assuming that Ms. Daniele found inspiration for her novel throughout her work with organizations involved with underprivileged children. The novel was thoughtful and well-researched, and a testament that was oftentimes difficult to read due to the injustices afforded the children at the industrial schools. Placed their under no fault or choice of their own, the children were forced to endure horrific conditions and given no opportunity to grow organically or experience anything remotely resembling a childhood. Peg's voice was oftentimes heartbreakingly despondent, her resentment palpable and her abandonment issues manifesting in realistic and life-changing ways.  The character of Norah Hanley was equally as sorrowful. Forced away and into giving birth in a truly treacherous and despicable environment, the young woman was forced to give her child away and live with the shame of having a child out of wedlock. Norah was lucky enough to live within a reasonable distance to Peg and be able to see her once a year, but the pain involved was no less severe. I often questioned whether it was healthy for the mother and child to see each other each year and rip open the wound, or if it would be more prudent for Norah and Peg to sever all ties and forget about one another ... it was an impossible situation, and well-written.  Giving the novel 3 out of 5 stars, my wish is that the story had been a bit more fluid. It read more like a child's diary than an actual novel. It is, in my opinion, an appropriate novel for ages 13+. 

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian James

    I went into this historical novel having never heard of Industrial Schools and being completely unaware of this practice. Now, having read it, I've been educating myself on this shameful piece of history where women were punished for having out-of-wedlock children, and even worse, the children were meant to suffer for it as well. AND this is in post World War II western Europe! It would have been easy for Heidi Daniele to write about the well-documented horrors associated with the Ind I went into this historical novel having never heard of Industrial Schools and being completely unaware of this practice. Now, having read it, I've been educating myself on this shameful piece of history where women were punished for having out-of-wedlock children, and even worse, the children were meant to suffer for it as well. AND this is in post World War II western Europe! It would have been easy for Heidi Daniele to write about the well-documented horrors associated with the Industrial Schools, but she chose to tell a different story. Through her careful use of prose, she has crafted an absolutely beautiful story that deals with the emotional turmoil associated with the practice, but also examines the aspects of compassion that existed within the terrible setting as she tells the story of a young girl named Peg growing up in this world. Through Peg (whose name was changed from Mary Margaret upon entering becoming a "house child"), we see the unfairness of it all. A childish confusion settles in as it concerns her real mother and the difficult relationship they share. The author handles this difficult situation with such tenderness and care that we are able to feel both character's pain, even when they are not quite able to understand each other's actions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carol Deegan

    I’d give this book more stars if I could. This extremely well written emotional story follows Mary Margaret as she is sentenced to nine years in an industrial school in Ireland because she is an “illegitimate “. There she is forced into manual labor while she lives under constant threat of harsh punishment by the nuns for real or imagined discretions. Her dream is being able go to America for a better life. She struggles with her emotions after she learns the identity of her mother, and after sh I’d give this book more stars if I could. This extremely well written emotional story follows Mary Margaret as she is sentenced to nine years in an industrial school in Ireland because she is an “illegitimate “. There she is forced into manual labor while she lives under constant threat of harsh punishment by the nuns for real or imagined discretions. Her dream is being able go to America for a better life. She struggles with her emotions after she learns the identity of her mother, and after she is discharged from the school. Don’t miss this wonderful novel! I hope there’s a sequel in the works! I really need to know how she fares in the next part of her life! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    This book was amazing in so many ways yet so sad as it’s based on actual events. I loved and felt so sad for “Peg” and her true mother. I read a lot of historical books and this was amazingly written and very informative. I love nothing more than reading a book that shines light on actual events and when I learn something from it. My heart broke for these mothers and children. I loved this Abd look forward to reading more from this author! A must read!

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