The Girls with No Names Review

Hello, all!

The majority of the historical fiction I read tends to take place in England, so when I heard about The Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick and how it's based in the early 1910's New York, I knew I wanted to pick it up. Big thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy!

Pub Date: 1-7-20
Adult - Historical Fiction
Born with a heart defect, Effie Tildon wasn't meant to live a very long life. Now, coming on 14 years old, she's grown accustomed to the overprotective and sheltered life she's lived along with her older sister, Luella, in their large family mansion. Determined to have a little fun, the pair start sneaking out and roaming the gypsy camps in the woods by their home. Here, Luella especially, starts to open up and enjoy all the things in life they had been kept away from, and her brazen attitude comes out tenfold after the girls accidentally stumble upon a secret their father has been keeping.

One morning, Effie wakes to find Luella gone, and she's convinced her parents have found out about the gypsy's, and have locked Luella up in the House of Mercy, a local home for wayward girls. She hatches a plan to get herself committed in hopes of finding Luella and breaking her out, but when she realizes she's made a grave miscalculation, the only hope for her survival is Mable, a tough girl with secrets of her own. The pair must learn to put their differences aside and truly trust one another if they mean to make it out alive.

This book had me completely hooked. It's told in three perspectives: Effie's, Mable's and Effie's mother, Jeanne. In Mable's case, it's mostly flashbacks detailing how she came to be in the House of Mercy, and all the hardships and betrayals she's had to face. I thought her backstory was so interesting and really pulled the curtain back on how life was like for young girls during this time period. She was such a strong character, but being on this journey with Effie and the way they interacted, brought an almost vulnerability to her that softened her hardness. I thought Effie grew so much throughout this as well. She started off a naive child who needed to be cared for and blossomed into one who could stand on her own and wasn't afraid of succumbing to her "blue fits." Aside from the characters, I thought that the setting felt very real to New York in the 1910's; it was gritty, grimy and unforgiving. My only small gripe was that I felt the story was a tad slow at times, and I would've loved to learn a bit more about the House of Mercy (which was a real place at the time), but other than that, I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4/5


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