cover image The Girls with No Names

The Girls with No Names

Serena Burdick. Park Row, $16.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7783-0873-7

Burdick (Girl in the Afternoon) will break hearts with this exquisitely wrought, meticulously researched historical reflection on an American version of the infamous Magdalene laundries of Ireland. In the first years of the 20th century, free-spirited sisters Luella and Effie Tildon live in New York City, near the House of Mercy, a home for wayward girls that is anything but merciful. Effie can’t conceive of a time when she and Luella won’t be living happily ever after—until Luella disappears, setting in motion a devastating series of events. Believing that her sister has been committed by their father to the House of Mercy, Effie hatches a plan to get committed—and when she discovers she’s wrong, she becomes a prisoner, largely dependent on another resident, Mable. Effie’s parents, meanwhile, have no idea where she is, believe she’s been kidnapped, and are moving heaven and earth to find her. Told from the alternating points of view of Effie; her mother, Jeanne; and Mable, the narrative combines lush prose with a quick and riveting plot. Readers will be intensely moved by this historical. Agent: Stephanie Delman, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)