The Stovepipe – Bonnie E. Virag

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stovepipeNormally, I don’t read memoirs, but when a friend recommended I read “The Stovepipe”, telling me I would love it, I gave it a chance. How glad I am that I listened to her.

“The Stovepipe” wasn’t written as an ego trip by an elite, rich and famous person. Nor is it about some one of great historic importance. It is written about two young girls who lived with the horrors of the foster care system in the 40’s and 50’s.

This memoir, beautifully written by one of the girls, shows the indifference of the system and its inability to properly follow up with the foster children. It should be required reading for anyone who plans to work in the foster care program or has contact with foster children.

Bonnie and her twin sister, Betty, are taken from home at the tender age of four. No one tells them why they were removed, nor are they told where they are going or for how long. Separated from their siblings, they are frightened and alone.

The two go from one situation to another. Sometimes the changes are for the better, more often not. On occasion, they meet up with other of their siblings, but mostly they have no contact with one another. Eventually, the two girls end up with the Benders. At first, it seems an ideal location. They work hard on the farm, go to school and do homework like normal children. The only hitch is the Bender’s son, Doug, who does everything he can to torment them.

I didn’t want to give away any more of the plot. Suffice to say, things go downhill rapidly. “The Stovepipe” reads more like a novel. Virag fleshes out her characters with vivid memories of the events of her life. The reader can’t help but be amazed at what a wonderful, loving person she has become after all she was forced to endure.

I highly recommend “The Stovepipe” whether you’re a fan of memoirs or not. It is an incredible work that leaves the reader feeling anger at the injustice, as well as happiness at its conclusion.

5 golden acorns

© Dellani Oakes 2013

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