Congratulations to author Julia Brewer Daily on the release of her debut novel, No Names to Be Given!
Read on for more info and a chance to win a $100 Amazon e-gift card!!!!
Today’s young women will not understand how our families made us feel shame so intensely; we surrendered our first-born children to strangers. Faith Reynolds, No Names to Be Given
The widely anticipated debut novel by Julia Brewer Daily is a glimpse into the lives of women forced by society to gift their newborns to strangers. Although this novel is a fictional account, it mirrors many of the adoption stories of its era.
When three young unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans in 1965, they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired. Twenty-five years later, they are brought back together by blackmail and their secrets threatened with exposure—all the way to the White House.
Told from the three women’s perspectives in alternating chapters, we are mesmerized by the societal pressures on women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant without marriage. How that inconceivable act changed them forever is the story of No Names To Be Given, a novel with southern voices, love exploited, heartbreak and blackmail.
M A G N O L I A H O M E H O S P I T A L
N E W O R L E A N S , 1 9 6 6
Men loved Sandy’s body. She didn’t have the option of leading with her wit or intellect. Her looks arrived first. It was both a blessing and a curse.
Now, Sandy placed her hand on her formerly taut stomach. It felt bloated and mushy. How long would it be before she was back in her sparkly dance costumes and performing for audiences? The provocative bustiers and garter belts would not fit her now. She slid up in her hospital bed and peered through a crack in the curtain. They were all in the same recovery room, separated by thin blue fabric. She heard the other two moaning as they awakened. A nurse worked among the three of them and whispered, as if the others were out of earshot, “What a coincidence ya’ll went into labor on the same day. We were inducing you next week.”
An acidic smell of disinfectant and the rusty odor of blood invaded Sandy’s nostrils. She swallowed and found her throat parched and lips chapped. Her head throbbed with a dull drumbeat, and she tasted a metallic tang. What have I done? Why did I think this was the better choice?
Sandy’s thoughts jumbled, like a bad movie looping in her head. She squeezed her eyes shut as she remembered how her heart once pounded whenever she heard Glen’s voice. The curtains separating the roommates’ beds reminded Sandy of those in her home in Illinois, and her mind projected Glen’s image into the hospital room.
“You see what happens to trashy girls?”
She imagined him sitting at the end of the bed, sneering at her. Sandy’s teeth chattered, and her body quaked in small jerks. Her chest rose and fell so rapidly; she became faint. Sandy imagined dying in the hospital. Women died from childbirth all the time. Would her mother ever find out? Probably not. Sandy covered her tracks pretty well. Glen would think she got what she deserved.
Sandy leaned forward and yanked back the cloth separating them. Becca twisted from side to side. Sandy hated seeing her roommate in such distress. Becca might have been a princess-like creature in her former life, but Sandy admired her rebellious streak. How many other white girls had the guts to fall in love with a Negro? Becca broke the silence. “I cannot believe our babies are in the nursery down the hall, and they won’t let us see them,” she whispered. “Maybe we can sneak down there.”
“Don’t. It may make things worse.” Sandy wanted to avoid all maternal feelings and didn’t want to see a child who might look like her or Carlos.
“I can barely walk to the bathroom.” Faith’s voice trembled. Her pixie haircut, unwashed and dishwater blond, was in spikes and her eyes seemed too large for their sockets.
“Hey, Nurse Carter. If you let me go to the nursery, I won’t bother you anymore.”
“You know that’s not allowed.” The nurse frowned at Becca.
“I promise to stand behind the window. I just want to see my baby. One time. I promise.” The nurse’s response was to leave the room.
Becca whispered to Sandy. “I just want to see the skin color. I want to see if the adoptive parents will know it’s a mixed-race baby.”
Most of all, Sandy knew she longed to hold her child. Becca still declared love for her baby’s father. Sandy was still in love with her child’s father, too, but he would be no help to her from behind prison bars.
“I’ll go on a hunger strike. Do you want me to barricade myself in the nursery?” Becca made her announcements in a loud voice.
“Hush. You’re disturbing the entire home.” Nurse Carter poked her head back in the doorway and spoke harshly.
Perspiration beaded in the hollows of Becca’s cheeks, and Sandy watched as she swiped it away with her palm. Her beauty dulled only slightly with her auburn hair in a messy knot on the top of her head and her freckles dominant on her ivory skin. Becca’s startling blue eyes were now the color of a very stormy sea—gunmetal and glinting.
“Everything’s gonna be alright,” Sandy cooed. She feared Becca would spring from the bed and run toward the nursery. Sandy watched Faith with her hands clasped as if in prayer.
“Faith, are you okay?” She always spoke to Faith as if she were a child. They were all about the same age, eighteen, but Faith’s innocence made her seem so much younger.
“I’m miserable,” Faith said.
“Me, too. I feel like a medieval torture device stretched my limbs,” Sandy said.
Faith chanted prayers for her baby. “Please, Lord. Please let my baby have the very best parents. I know you’ll take care of him—or her.” She hummed the lyrics of “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”
“How are we expected to walk away and pretend nothing happened? They knocked us out before we had our babies and won’t let us see them? We don’t even know if we had a boy or a girl.” Becca blurted out.
Sandy did not turn to Becca. Instead, she watched Faith twist her hands. Faith’s frame disappeared from view under the sheet. Sandy was afraid her tiny limbs, awkward and knobby, would vanish altogether without the bed to contain her. Every time Sandy looked at Faith, she remembered Faith’s description of her assault.
Now, a living reminder of it existed. Faith had said she didn’t want this baby carrying the blame for its conception. Suddenly, Faith began gulping breaths like drinking water with a cupped hand from a bucket. Sandy tried not to look at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair, not dyed since entering the home, showed roots black and wide like the stripe of paint against a hot asphalt roadway, only in reverse—her platinum locks clung to the dark center. Towering above Faith, she saw how sallow her skin was and how lackluster. She needed her eyebrows plucked and her nails painted—no time to worry about all that. Sandy required all her strength for her own recovery and assisting her friends.
She tucked Faith and Becca’s blankets around them, raised their hospital bed rails, and crawled back into her bed.
Tomorrow, they had plans to make.
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Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
She has been a Communications adjunct professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, Mississippi.
She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart.
As the executive director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (three hundred artisans from nineteen states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public.
Daily is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans. She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well. A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador Retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.
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