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Jane Forrester just wants to help people. It’s as simple as that. So she takes a job as a social worker, and while her husband isn’t exactly on board with that idea, he allows it. It’s the 1960’s and it’s just not proper for the wife of a physician to work, but Jane is strong-willed, independent, and unsatisfied with simply playing the role of a subservient housewife. As a social worker, she’ll get to help people. She’ll bring them much-needed supplies, much-needed money, much-needed assistance. Or so she thinks.

Assigned to a few families in rural North Carolina, her job is nothing like what she imagined, and the Hart family quickly sucks her in. Ivy Hart is practically running the family at fifteen years old. Her parents are gone. Her grandmother, Nonnie, is sick. Her older sister, Mary Ella, has some intellectual problems. And Mary Ella’s son, Baby William, while well-loved, isn’t well-cared for. Ivy, Mary Ella, and occasionally Nonnie work on a tobacco farm, barely earning enough to keep themselves fed, even with the extra assistance from the state. Jane gradually becomes more and more involved with this family, bending the rules and paying them extra attention.

When she finds out that a large part of her job is ordering the sterilization of at-risk children, such as Ivy, her world comes crumbling down around her. It seems so wrong to her, to sterilize these girls without their consent, without their knowledge – yet to her coworkers, it’s common practice. As Jane protests more and more vigorously against the sterilization, she puts her job – and her marriage – at risk.

I was pulled into this novel from the very first sentence, and I was absolutely done for by the time Jane got her job as a social worker. I couldn’t believe what I was reading about the eugenics program – in all the history classes I’ve taken, all the college courses I sat through, all the books I’ve read, I never once heard about this awful program. I had to research it myself, see if it was true, and the horrifying part is that it was. North Carolina had a particularly aggressive eugenics program, approving nearly all proposals involving the “mentally defective,” “feebleminded,” or those with epilepsy. Knowing that this book is based on real events is chilling.

If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. Not only is it incredibly well-written, it’s such an important topic. Highly, highly recommended.

Final rating: 

But did you know that eyewitness testimony is often totally unreliable? The human memory only records events through the filter of its own frame of reference. We try to fit the information we receive into schemas, units of knowledge that we possess about the world that correspond with frequently encountered situations, individuals, ideas, and situations. In other words, we often see things as we expect to see them, or want to see them, and not always as they are.

In the Blood | Lisa Unger

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DNF at 25%

Even reading 25% of this book was a struggle. I will typically slog through a book for weeks in hopes that it will get better, but this but was not only boring, it was offensive, poorly written, and confusing.

I was provided with a free ARC of Game via Netgalley, and I’m wondering if there was something wrong with the file, because there were approximately 12,062 mistakes on each page. Names were not capitalized. Entire sentences ran together without spaces. Paragraphs were broken up into chunks by random numbers inserted into the middle. Line breaks abounded, used sometimes several times within one sentence. I could not handle it. It’s a shame that you can’t edit the formatting of kindle books. That might have made this book more tolerable.

Only marginally more tolerable, though, because HP has to be the most unlikable character I’ve had the displeasure of reading about this year. At 31 years old, evidently HP still fancies himself a teenager, because he blows off his job like he no cares in the world, despite the fact that he literally has no food and has no money to pay his bills. He is awful to the singular friend of his that we meet, a recently converted Muslim who dear HP refuses to call by his new name. HP shows no remorse for anything he does, from minor pranks to serious crimes. He acts like nothing can touch him, and I couldn’t tell whether this was intentional or whether the author simply didn’t know how to write a good slacker.

Don’t even get me started on Rebecca, because her storyline, at least for the first quarter of the book, is a mess. Add that to the fact that there nothing to distinguish Rebecca’s sections from HP’s (aside from the abrupt change in pronouns, that is) and I couldn’t handle this book.

I told myself that is I’d keep reading until 25% to see if it got any better. It didn’t. Of course, I can’t speak to the remaining 75%, but I would not recommend based on the disappointing beginning.

Final rating: ☆☆ (DNF)