Keeping Lucy #TGreenwood

Keeping Lucy is the first T Greenwood novel that I have read and it is one that grabbed me, pulled me in and still will not let me go. It is heart breaking and heartwarming, historical and timely all at once. It’s a book that I highly recommend.

Keeping Lucy begins with Ginny Richardson giving birth to her daughter, Lucy, who is born with Down Syndrome, known as ” a mongoloid” at that time. Ginny’s husband and father in law make the decision to put Lucy in a state-run facility called Willowridge where she will be cared for until she dies. Those are their words. For several days, Ginny is given “twilight,” the drug most women were given during that time to forget the pains of childbirth and her loss. Remember, natural childbirth was not in vogue at this time. When my own daughter died in-vitro, I was given “twilight” so that I would “forget” everything. Trust me, you don’t forget. Your body remembers everything and your mind desperately tries to fill in the pieces that it was forced to black out. This drug is horrific. I cannot believe and entire generation of women were routinely given this drug. For two years Ginny is forced by her husband and her father in law to pretend her daughter did not exist until her best friend brings her news articles about the horrors that have been uncovered at Willowridge: children lying in their own feces, roaches in the food, children malnourished and far worse. Ginny and her friend, Marsha, decide – finally – to go to Willowridge only to discover that, while she can visit Lucy, her parental rights have been terminated by her husband. Ginny takes matters into her own hands at this point and a battle for Lucy’s survival ensues.

I actually loved Keeping Lucy for multiple reasons and many of those reasons are the very ones for which other readers are disparaging the book. First, Keeping Lucy is based on an actual place called Willowbrook. You can read more about it HERE. It was so horrific that legislation was passed in the late 70s that allegedly altered the way that we in the US care for the “disabled.” I use the word allegedly because I grew up in the south near a facility aptly called the Conway Human Development Center. It was a place of filth and horror where people with mental and physical disabilities were sent just like Lucy was sent in this story. It still exists in one of the poorest states in the US and the residents are not developing anything other than bedsores and diseases. It’s a disgrace. If you doubt that, then you can read this article from today’s news.   Nothing has changed. Nothing. Books like Keeping Lucy are necessary to educate readers about these horrors then as well as now.

Furthermore, every time I read a book set in the late 60s and early 70s and that book is historically accurate regarding the plight of women, I am utterly amazed at the number of female reviewers who write scathing reviews about the passivity of the female protagonist. Here’s a reminder for you strong women of today. My daughter and I purchased a home two years ago, We literally had to jump through hoops in the state of Indiana to get a bank to approve a home loan to two women without a male co-signer! This is the 21st century. Until 1978, it was legal to fire a woman from her job if she got pregnant. An abortion was not legal until 1973 – and in some states in the southern US it still is not regardless of what you might think otherwise. Until 1977, you could be fired for reporting sexual harassment in the work place, a woman could not apply for a credit card on her own without a male co-signer until 1974,  and could not refuse to have sex with her husband under any circumstances until the mid 1970s. Are you beginning to get a picture here ladies!? Ginny was not passive. She was living her life according the law of the land. While most others were guaranteed rights in 1965 and 1966, women were not granted any rights, other than the right to vote, until the mid to late 70s and we still obviously are fighting for the right to decide what is best for our own bodies! In Keeping Lucy, Ginny literally had no rights. Furthermore, everyone smoked!! They smoked in restaurants, they smoked in their cars, they smoked in stores, they smoked when pregnant and they smoked around kids! My doctor, whom I adored, smoked every time I visited – in his doctor’s office! I don’t know where you were in the 50s, 60s and 70s but there were advertisements for cigarettes extolling the benefits of nicotine! You are looking at the behavior of these women through your 21st century glasses and missing some very valuable lessons that we all need see and learn. Primarily this – nothing has changed!! We have politicians and religious leaders who want babies born at all cost. These children are then put in institutions like the Human Development Center and no one ever considers the toll that it places on the women who have given birth. No one EVER thinks about the women – period – much less these poor children!

So, with all of that said, please read Keeping Lucy without blinders, with an open mind and with the idea that there is more here than two women on a joy ride across the south. This book is available for pre-order now.

Thank you very much #Netgalley, @tgwood505 and #StMartinsPress for my advanced copy of #KeepingLucy.



21 thoughts on “Keeping Lucy #TGreenwood

  1. I absolutely loved this book. Some friends on GR tore it apart though, which was surprising to me. I thought it was written well and then a friend thought it was horrible writing. She literally said everything the opposite of my review. 😂 Just goes to show how different we all are. I still have a hard time accepting that places like this still exist. Just horrible. Excellent review, Mackey! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you loved this book too. I think that speaks to everything I know and love about you! Not that we have to agree on everything – LOL!! I also think that many reviewers simply could not fathom that the late 60s, early 70s were not like today. In their mind it hasn’t been that long ago and yet, for those of us who lived then, it really was a different world from today. That’s my reasoning for the disconnect, at least I hope that’s the reason anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😍 I totally agree that it was a different time, and not only that, her father-in-law and husband were horrible and controlling. This is something people still live with today. I also felt connected I guess because we as a family live on one income, and if I were to lose my husband’s support it would be difficult to get back on my feet even though I do have an education. Many women might look down on that, but it’s a reality for me, the same way it was for the MC in the book. That was something that felt real to me in the book. Anyway, I love your review. Hope you had a good visit with your family! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jonetta. I don’t get it either, which is why I generally don’t read recent historical fiction. I get too bogged down in what I know and my own personal feelings about the subject matter. I do hope you enjoy this one – well, enjoy isn’t exactly the right word but you know what I mean.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent review Mackey!!! This was a wonderful (but sad) book to read. I have seen more than a few reviews tearing it apart too. And I agree that people need to understand that it was a totally different time back then. What isn’t acceptable today was acceptable back then. Like drinking while pregnant. I have very clear memories of my mother kicking back beer and smoking like a chimney while pregnant with my 2nd brother (he was born in 1980). Was she a horrible mother? Absolutely not. Now, when my sisters were born (in 87 and 89), it was different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jolie. It was a strange time, a time of change and far too many people today think that women had the rights we have today and we just didn’t, nor did we have the science that we have now. Which is why I fight so hard to protect what we DO have which still is not enough. Sorry, I can be a bit of a crusader on this issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said Mackey… I haven’t read much if the other reviews but I agree reviewers should think about life for women as it was. Moreover, I am not very sure how many of us are the firebrand rebels that we like to say we are in our Reviews.
    I am an independent, well educated, was working with the best of surgeons in renowned hospitals but I was in a relationship where I was put down for being all this. Wanting to make it work made me a pathetic needy creature. This is the truth. I can recognize it and feel bad for that phase.
    But the fact is when we face a particular situation we do not know how we would react or do.
    Sorry if this went out on a tangent
    Getting a home loan is still difficult for women in my country too..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry that you ever were or are made to feel less than the brilliant woman that you are Shalini! Women today never should be treated less than equal and, yet, even in the most advanced countries we still are either by customs, religion or by laws. Until my last breath is taken I will fight against this inequality. You are magnificent Shalini!


  4. Mackay, a hugely passionate post … not just about the book but about the state of affairs for women … even in today’s world. My mind boggles that you had trouble securing a mortgage but then realise there are many such situations still here in the UK. My heart goes out to you for your own sadness, Mackay.

    I’m taken with the book and this is going on my list to read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Annika, for you kindness and understanding. I hope the book resonates with you as well. I was just so shocked that there still are situations like this one, the “school,” here in the US. My mind cannot comprehend the horrors that we inflict on one another.

      Liked by 1 person

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