Monday, September 12, 2022

Audio Review: The Lost Girls Of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman



Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined . 


Oh wow...let me start off by saying that this book is DISTURBING, and at times it may be hard to read, there are many many triggering points in it, but if you can handle it, I recommend reading it. Ellen Marie Wiseman has based to story around the notorious Staten Island state school for disabled children called Willowbrook ( look it up, it was a real school ). The school ran from 1947 to 1987 and was plagued with rumors of unsanitary living conditions and medical practices that were not on the up and up. Geraldo Rivera did one of his popular investigation reports into the school in 1972 and brought it to light.

Wiseman does not hold back in the story, and at times you might feel a bit overwhelmed in the story of Sage, whose twin Rosemary ( I want to sing Simon and Garfunkel every time I read their names together) a student at the school goes missing. Sage takes it upon herself to go to the school to try and find her, and instead, she is mistaken for the missing Rosemary and gets sucked into the school. From this point on n the book you read about the horrors that Sage has witnessed in the school, the sexual and physical abuse, the horrid living conditions, and the questionable experiments that are at times performed on the students.

The story revolves around Sage's survival, of her trying to find her missing sister while trying to convince the powers to be that she is not Rosemary. She also gets in the middle of a mystery, that includes her sister, and also the Urban Legend of Cropsey. Reading all of this will shock you, sadden you, and keep you reading late into the night.

I urge you to not let the label of " Historical Fiction " turn you away if you are not a fan. Yes, The Lost Girls Of Willowbrook is Historical Fiction, but if you took away that label you will have a stunning piece of suspenseful writing that will keep any Suspense/Thriller fan entertained.

1 comment :

  1. I used to read Canon of Sherlock Holmes and I love the historical and suspense in this fiction when I was a child. And I will definetely try this book as well, this is what I need!