WOW!! Ellen Marie Wiseman, the author of “The Lost Girls of Willowbrook” has brought to life, the horrific nightmare of Institutional Life in Willowbrook. I have read all of Ellen Marie Wiseman’s novels, and the author is quite the “Master” of vividly describing her characters, events, landscape through her writing. “The Lost Girls of Willowbrook ” is one of the most powerful of her books and I am still shaking from some of the scenes. This is definitely a thought-provoking and memorable , that I would highly recommend to other readers. It is so unbelievable that it took years to close, after Robert Kennedy’s visit, and Geraldo Rivera’s expose on the conditions.
The timeline for this story is set in the early 1970’s. The Genres for this story are Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, and Coming of Age Fiction. The author describes the characters as complex and complicated. Some are brave and courageous, and some are mean-spirited and cruel. Some staff is overworked and overwhelmed and others are indifferent.
One of the protagonists of the story is Sage Winters, a 16 year old girl, who overhears a discussion from her stepfather, about her” deceased” twin sister Rosemary, is not dead but missing at Willowbrook. Sage boards a bus and heads to the institution that she believes is a school to look for her sister.
On the bus that takes her to Willowbrook, Sage closes her eyes and someone steals her purse. When she arrives at the school, some of the staff and psychiatrist believe that Sage is the missing “Rosemary” and Sage now becomes a “PATIENT”. No matter how Sage tries to convince everyone that she is not Rosemary, she is ignored. Sage in now living the nightmare. Can you imagine the danger and horrors that await Sage? Before this, Sage only had heard rumors of Willowbrook.
Ellen Marie Wiseman has written a heartbreaking, memorable and thought-provoking novel that does show how important kindness, love, compassion and hope is. It is a significant must read!