cover image Evidence of V

Evidence of V

Sheila O’Connor. Rose Metal, $16.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-941-62819-5

This introspective tale from O’Connor (Until Tomorrow, Mr. Mars) explores and imagines the difficult life of the author’s maternal grandmother. When O’Connor was in her late 40s, she and her mother, June, were given access to June’s sealed adoption record. They discovered that, in 1935, when June’s birth mother, V, was a pregnant 15-year-old, she was committed to the Minnesota Home for Girls, Sauk Centre. In riveting juxtaposition of prose and historical research, O’Connor recreates an almost Atwoodian reality where girls, some as young as eight or nine, were labeled “sex delinquents” and forced to reside in group homes designed to reform and domesticate them. Using the details in June’s adoption file, O’Connor imagines the circumstances that may have led to V’s employment as a “showgirl” at Minneapolis’s Cascade Club. The story follows V’s intimate relationship with 35-year-old Mr. C, her attempt to escape Sauk Centre, the forced adoption of June after three months of state-enforced breastfeeding, V’s escape from working as hired help in a wealthy household, and the tragic end of her life soon after. V’s harrowing tale highlights the stark reality of an all-too-recent past where victims of sexual abuse were scapegoated for their perpetrator’s crimes. O’Connor’s engrossing, powerful narrative will appeal to those who enjoy the work of Amy Bloom. (Oct.)