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Unfit: A Novel by Lara Cleveland Torgesen

Unfit: A Novel

by Lara Cleveland Torgesen

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    Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain (susiesharp)
    susiesharp: Kind of the other side of eugenics.

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Born into a poor family, Chrissy's mom signs her up for a sterilization procedure when her welfare checks are threatened. Devastated, Chrissy is unable to hide her anger. Immediately after a fight, her Mom commits suicide. Chrissy, technically an adult, is separated from her siblings.

Overall, I thought this was a good book with interesting characters. It was a moving story, addressing a little known fact, eugenics programs in the United States. I did question why Chrissy did not keep in contact with her siblings. She had raised them as their mother, and then seemed to lose all interest in them. The last three chapters of the book read as an epilogue. Chrissy jumped back and forth in time and repeated the same information. Despite these criticisms, this is a good read and one I would recommend. ( )
  JanaRose1 | May 12, 2014 |
Wow this is something I never knew about and it breaks my heart, this book was fascinating it felt like a true story but was a fictionalized amalgamation of different people, and it worked well, I really came to care about Chrissy. I never knew anything about the eugenics program before and was horrified that this happened in our country and how long North Carolina held on to this antiquated practice. If you don’t know what I am talking about eugenics is- forcing sterilization procedures on thousands of people deemed “unfit” to reproduce. And who decided this? People with fancy degrees who thought they knew better than anyone else. Kids who were sent to juvenile hall were sterilized, and girls like Chrissy whose mother was on welfare were threatened if she didn’t have the surgery they would lose their benefits, Chrissy’s mother worked a job but it wasn’t enough to raise all of her children. And yes before you think it Chrissy’s parents were married and had children then her father was killed in a car accident that is when they ended up on welfare.

That Chrissy was ever able to love & marry and have a happy life was a credit to her strength even when she felt she had Unfit tattooed across her forehead most of her life. How awful would that be to be told at the age of 14 that you are unfit?? Especially when Chrissy’s mother dies too and she loses all her brothers and sisters and feels the guilt of being mean to her mother after the surgery and what really bothered me they didn’t sterilize her mother and how could Chrissy not feel anger towards her mother who had signed the papers before Chrissy was even told what would happen to her.

This book grabbed me right away and was hard to put down, it is a fascinating read and well written. My only qualm was I so wanted Chrissy to find her siblings, I wanted them all to be okay and had been raised by loving happy parents but with a book like this the reality is she probably never could find them especially the little ones, but I wanted a happy ending for Chrissy, I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay, so the author did a great job at making me care about the characters in this book. This book is a must read , about an embarrassing and heartbreaking time in North Carolina history.

5 Stars

Full disclosure: I received this book from Netgalley and publisher for a fair and honest review ( )
  susiesharp | Mar 19, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0615874495, Paperback)

Chrissy Rollings has a mountain of troubles to overcome, one that would crush most other girls her age. She was born in a small North Carolina town in 1952, into a poor but happy and loving family that always managed to scrape by each month… until the night her father died in a car crash, plunging the family into poverty. Chrissy’s mother is forced to take low-paying jobs to supplement her meager welfare checks, leaving Chrissy to raise her five siblings. But even these sacrifices are not enough. North Carolina was among the states to practice eugenics — forcing sterilization procedures on thousands of people deemed “unfit” to reproduce. When Chrissy’s mother was faced with the choice of having 14-year-old Chrissy sterilized or losing her welfare check, she makes the only choice she feels she can and signs the consent form. That act of survival sets into motion a series of events that shape the course of Chrissy’s life forever. Despite knowing in her heart that she did not deserve to be sterilized, that she was not in fact “unfit,” Chrissy struggles for the rest of her life with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and a belief that she doesn’t deserve to have anything good happen to her. Little by little, though, Chrissy claws her way past every obstacle, slowly building a new family of friends and eventually finding her soul mate, with whom she is reborn. With their support, she becomes a woman who is strong, loving, intelligent, and anything but unfit. Her gripping story is an inspiration for anyone who started life with little hope for the future, those who faced problems that felt insurmountable, or just anyone who ever felt “unfit.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:52 -0400)

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