The Lost Girls of Willowbrook, a review by Di

posted in: Di | 0

Ellen Marie Wiseman

Kensington Books
August 30, 2022
304 pages

Amazon | Goodreads

This is one of the most disturbing books that I have ever read. Yet, I could not look away. The factor that makes it so disturbing is that even though this is a novel it is based on facts.

Willowbrook was built as a New York State school for children with intellectual disabilities. It became a fate far worse than death for the child residents of the institution.

Sage is the main character. She is the twin sister of Rosemary who was sent to the school by her mother for behavioural issues. When Rosemary disappears, 16 year old Sage takes it upon herself to go to the school (by bus) and help search for her missing sister. Upon arrival, she is mistaken for Rosemary and becomes an unwilling resident herself.

In her short time at Willowbrook Sage saw and experienced many atrocities and injustices towards the patients/residents. I admired Sage’s tenacity and determination to discover the truth about what had happened to her sister. To complicate matters, there seemed to be an unknown killer on the loose too.

While there were not any actual twists and turns in the plot, it kept me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how everything would be resolved. I had a few different scenarios in my head.

Kudos to Ms Wiseman for all the research she did in order that this story could come to fruition. Surely, the horrors that she came across must have kept her up for more than one night.

This is not a book for everybody. Some of the descriptions are very graphic which could be triggering for some readers. But, it is a very compelling read. I have since read a few articles online about Willowbrook. This book is not an exaggeration.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Readers Copy.

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