by Susan Peterson: Laura Engel’s story is a familiar one if you grew up in the 60s south or actually in most any town in the 1960s. You may have your own memories of a baby born and then taken; or memories of a friend or a relative who mysteriously disappeared and then showed up the next year a bit diminished and very rebellious. Or your experience may only come from the stories of caution told around kitchen tables by grandmothers.

Laura did the unthinkable in the early 60s south; she became pregnant and, by that action, threatened to sully her family’s name forever in her little hometown where everyone knows everyone and everyone goes to the same church. Her parents tried to shotgun a wedding and when that failed, they took her to a home for unwed mothers in another state to give birth. Of course, she was forced to give the baby up for adoption. And, though her parents and her grandmother assured her she would forget. That didn’t happen. No, she didn’t forget nor did she forgive…at least not for a very long time. And, she internalized that trauma and she never forgot the little boy she had in that home.

Imagine Laura’s emotions when 50 years later she is contacted by the son she has never known! And, further imagine the joy of learning that he wants to know her and his family. Laura tells her story and lets you in on the emotional rollercoaster she rode for a very, very long time.

Laura’s tale is that of a sad chapter in our social history; when women and young girl’s were held to high standards but were not given the tools to cope with the emotions and challenges of of their teenage years much less the knowledge! When sex was such a forbidden topic it was a rare parent who talked to their daughters and explained or discussed their sexuality. It was also a time when young girls bore the burden of their mistakes and the young men were allowed to “just be boys”.

This is a book worth reading and perhaps sharing with a daughter or a granddaughter. It will provoke a lot of discussion, that I can promise.