The Girls with No Names
Effie Tildon was born on the first day of the year 1900 with a heart defect; she wasn't expected to live through the year. Instead, she has made it to the age of 13 following her bold, older sister, Luella, who claimed her for her own like a doll when she was a baby. Effie expects that she will go to college one day and become a professional writer, and that Luella will follow in their mother's footsteps as a great ballerina. But then the sisters discover a secret their father is keeping, prompting Luella to become more rebellious. When her sister vanishes, Effie suspects that their father has had her committed to the House of Mercy, a home for wayward girls. She hatches a plan to have herself committed, too, in order to force her parents to retrieve them both.
The Girls with No Names, the sophomore work by Serena Burdick (Girl in the Afternoon), paints a vivid picture of life inside the workhouses to which women and girls could be sentenced in the 19th and early 20th century for anything considered immoral. Effie's more upper-class voice is balanced with Mable's, another resident whose tragic history contains secrets of a very different kind. Effie's mother also narrates some chapters, adding the perspective of an older generation facing the changing roles available to women in the new century. This coming-of-age tale will appeal to fans of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library