2 out of 4 stars
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Heaven Alone Knows, by Eileen Bird Levett, is a historical fiction book set in the early 1900s. It depicts some of the unfortunate circumstances that women and children had to face in England. Poverty, oppression, abuse - the situation was dire for most lower class citizens.
Maggie refuses to believe that her father would willingly abandon his children. Something must have delayed him. Perhaps, he has met up with an accident. Abandon them? Impossible! Especially not after the death of her mother. Her grandmother, Alice Fletcher, begs to differ. She has always known that Sam Johnson is a good-for-nothing man! With a heavy heart, Alice makes a tough decision, one that will alter the rest of Maggie's life. Alice makes arrangements for Maggie and her siblings to be sent to Green Bank Institute, a home for orphaned and abandoned children. Once there, Maggie is subjected to constant abuse. Eventually, she snaps and retaliates. To punish her, the mistress sends her away to a detention centre. It will be decades before Maggie sees her loved ones again. Alone in the world, Maggie must learn to fend for herself and survive.
I loved Maggie's stubbornness. Despite being a loving, selfless person, she is not overly meek. She is able to stand up for herself, although this puts her in a lot of trouble at times. Her qualities make her likeable. Thus, it became unbearable to read about her perpetual struggle. It seemed like her hard work, determination, and strength were repaid with sorrow. Maggie endures loss, abuse, and rape. It just was not fair!
The author focused mainly on the emotions felt by Maggie. I feel that not enough attention was given to the background - especially for a historical fiction book. For example, I did not know what time period the book was set in until the middle of the book. Only then did I realise that the story begins in the 1920s. Any historical events mentioned in the book are given briefly and vaguely.
The story of Maggie's life is eventful and unpredictable. There were a number of twists I did not foresee. However, the details surrounding these twists were not clearly given. I still need clarity on a few details. For example, what happened to certain characters? How did certain events occur? These questions went unanswered, giving the book a rushed feeling.
I rate Heaven Alone Knows 2 out of 4 stars. It has an interesting plot. Unfortunately, it contains a number of punctuation and spelling errors. This prevents me from giving it a higher rating.
Heaven alone knows
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