This was a fast read, but heartbreaking look at the America's "golden era" (post-WWII to 1973). The author is an artist and art professor who works mainly in video and photography; this book is more or less a literary version of her gallery work. It is also deeply personal, as the author was one of the babies surrendered and adopted during this era. The book opens and closes with the author's journey to finding her birth mother.
This book is HIGHLY repetitive, to the point that the repetition becomes almost satirical. Every woman profiled is/was white, middle class or upper middle class, Christian, from a two-parent heteronormative family, and never had sex education (either by parents or an organization). Their stories started to blend into one another. The author does broach the subjects of class, race, and religion in the last two chapters devoted to the women and explains why the women profiled were all from the same background. Those chapters were the most interesting from a intersectional feminist historian angle. There were inclusions of women who were date-raped, but at the time did not have the information (or even the words) to understand they had been raped until much later in life. For most of the women, they went in search of their children or made it possible to be found by their children; the author does go into the methods and organizations that are working with both groups to reunite families.
These are heartbreaking stories, even if they run together in the readers' heads. Families were particularly cruel to the pregnant teen, but the staff at hospitals and homes for unwed mothers were even more so. They sheer amount of lies, money, and judgment the adoption industry created in the post-WW II years was astounding. However, this book is not anti-adoption, a claim that is brought up in many reviews. They adoption process/legal rights is vastly different today than it was during this time period (much of that is credited to the work of the unwed mothers and surrendered children of this time, who banded together in the late 1970s and early 1980s).
I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in maternal issues or women's history.