Author: J. Albert Mann
Publication Date: March 17th, 2020
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: In the tradition of Girl, Interrupted, this fiery historical novel follows four young women in the early 20th century whose lives intersect when they are locked up by a world that took the poor, the disabled, the marginalized—and institutionalized them for life.
The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded is not a happy place. The young women who are already there certainly don’t think so. Not Maxine, who is doing everything she can to protect her younger sister Rose in an institution where vicious attendants and bullying older girls treat them as the morons, imbeciles, and idiots the doctors have deemed them to be. Not Alice, either, who was left there when her brother couldn’t bring himself to support a sister with a club foot. And not London, who has just been dragged there from the best foster situation she’s ever had, thanks to one unexpected, life altering moment. Each girl is determined to change her fate, no matter what it takes.
Girl, Interrupted is such a classic that when I saw that this book was compared to it, I knew I had to read it. I really wanted to see how the author managed to write something that could be like that, and I was totally wowed by it.
The Degenerates follows four girls who have been locked up in an institution, and their lives intersect and they find themselves crossing paths. These girls have been deemed “throwaways” by society, and they are treated terribly – and are tired of dealing with what gets thrown at them. They want to be treated as though they don’t have any disabilities or anything that may hold them back, and they are willing to fight for it.
This book is a really beautiful portrayal of the strength and will of young women in trying times in a world where if you are not “perfect,” you are locked away forever. The fact that this occurred is horrible enough on its own, but this book is pretty eye-opening to the treatment that went on in these circumstances.
The plot of this story is amazing – I love how the lives of these girls intersect and how they are brought together and fight against the injustice that they are being dealt. The relationships between the characters in the book are really touching, and I love how well the characters are written, too, by the way. They have such vivid personalities that I couldn’t bear to see them treated so negatively.
This is the kind of book that makes you think. This is the kind of book that makes you feel. This is the kind of book that I love reading, because the characters are so alive and they have so much to tell in terms of stories. It’s exciting. It’s frightening. It’s amazing.
The author did a fantastic job developing so many aspects of this book. I wish it were a bit longer, because I really enjoyed reading it, but I still have to recommend this one to anyone who is a fan of historical YA.
Note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
- Albert Mann is the author of six novels for children, with S&S Atheneum Books for Young Readers set to publish her next work of historical fiction about the Eugenics Movement and the rise of institutionalism in the United States. She is also the author of short stories and poems for children featured in Highlights for Children, where she won the Highlights Fiction Award, as well as the Highlights Editors’ Choice Award. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the Director of the WNDB Internship Grant Committee.
Jennifer is represented by Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency.
Prize: Win (1) copy of THE DEGENRATES by J. Albert Mann (US Only)
Starts: March 11th 2020
Ends: March 25th 2020
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