Thursday 7 April 2022

Book ~ "Looking For Jane" (2022) Heather Marshall

From Goodreads ~ Tell them you’re looking for Jane.

When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession in a stack of forgotten mail, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name: Jane.

As a teenager, Dr. Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for “fallen” women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption - a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had.

After discovering a shocking secret about her family history, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates “Jane” and finds a place of her own alongside Dr. Taylor within the network’s ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her.

Weaving together the lives of three women, Looking for Jane is an unforgettable debut about the devastating consequences that come from a lack of choice - and the enduring power of a mother’s love.

It’s 2017 and Angela and her wife, Tina, have been trying to get pregnant. It’s been a frustrating and expensive process for them. Angela manages an antique store and find some mail from 2010 stuffed in a drawer. There is a letter address to someone who used to live in the apartment upstairs. Angela reads the letter and discovers it’s from a mother on her deathbed, letting Nancy, her daughter, know that she was adopted from a Catholic home for unwed mothers, where babies were not given up willingly. Angela become determine to find out where Nancy is so she can deliver the letter so Nancy will know the truth about her birth.

In 1960, Evelyn, Maggie and others girls are in the home for unwed mothers, banished there by their families because they had gotten pregnant. The deal is they will have their babies there, the babies will be adopted out and the girls will earn their keep. It’s not a pleasant place to be as the nuns are very cruel and the girls are forced to give up their babies.

Because of her experience, Evelyn doesn’t want other girls to have to go through what she did. She becomes a doctor and part of the secret “Jane” network … if a girl needs or wants to have an abortion, she should have to go to a back alley abortionist or to a home for unwed mothers. She should be able to have the procedure done in a clean and supportive environment. In 1980 when Nancy finds herself pregnant, she goes a “Jane” doctor and eventually becomes a volunteer with Evelyn so she can help and support others.

This was an interesting book … not just the story, most of which happened in Toronto, but also the history. The author obviously did a lot of research. It’s amazing that girls and women who found themselves pregnant had very little options, even though it was their body. Happily things have changed. It is written in third person perspective in Angela, Evelyn and Nancy’s voices in the various time periods (the chapters are label). While a heavy topic and is not light reading, I liked this story. As a head’s up, there is swearing and disturbing situations.

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