No Names to Be Given by Julia Daily
Publication Date: August 3, 2021 Admission Press, Inc Genre: Historical Fiction
1965. Sandy runs away from home to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Becca falls in love with the wrong man. And Faith suffers a devastating attack. With no support and no other options, these three young, unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans where they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired. But such a life-altering event can never be forgotten, and no secret remains buried forever. Twenty-five years later, the women are reunited by a blackmailer, who threatens to expose their secrets and destroy the lives they’ve built. That shattering revelation would shake their very foundations-and reverberate all the way to the White House. Told from the three women’s perspectives, this mesmerizing story is based on actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant but unmarried, pressured by family and society to make horrific decisions. How that inconceivable act changed women forever is the story of No Names to Be Given, a heartbreaking but uplifting novel of family and redemption.
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“A gorgeous, thrilling, and important novel! These strong women will capture your heart.”-Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas “A novel worthy of a Lifetime movie adaptation.” Jess Hagemann, author of Headcheese “An insightful and sympathetic view offered into the lives of those who were adopted and those who adopted them.”-Pam Johnson, author of Justice for Ella “Readers can expect deep knowledge of the world the characters inhabit.”-Sara Kocek, author of Promise Me Something “I found myself thinking about Becca, Sandy, and Faith frequently as I went about my day-I was always excited to sit down and find out what happened next.”-Sarah Welch, author of Austin Brown Dogs: The Shelter Dogs Who Rescue Us
Excerpt of No Names to Be Given by Julia Brewer Daily
Most of all, Sandy knew she longed to hold her child. Becca still declared love for her baby’s father.
“I must go on a hunger strike. Do you want me to barricade myself in the nursery?” Becca made her announcements in a loud voice.
“Hush, Becca. You’re disturbing the entire Home.” A nurse leaned over her bed, speaking harshly.
Sandy saw perspiration beading under Becca’s eyes and watched as she swiped it away with her palm.
“Everything’s gonna be alright.” Sandy soothed the erratic behavior Becca exhibited. She feared Becca would spring from the bed and run toward the nursery.
Sandy pulled the opposite curtain and found Faith with her hands clasped as if in prayer.
“Faith, are you okay?” Sandy’s voice lowered. She always spoke to Faith as if she were a child. They were all the same age, but Faith’s innocence made her seem so much younger.
“I’m miserable over here,” 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 will 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?” Becca blurted out.
Sandy watched Faith twist her hands. Sandy’s memory of Faith telling about her assault was difficult enough to keep secret. Now, a living reminder of it existed. Faith said she did not want this baby to carry the blame for its conception. She appeared to experience a panic attack when she gulped breaths as if drinking water with a cupped hand from a bucket.
Sandy stood and helped Becca and Faith to the bathroom or shower. The next day, she and her roommates were back in room 310, recuperating from long labors and quick births. They bound their breasts to diminish their milk production and swapped out thick pads to contain blood’s constant flow from their wombs. The midwife brought heat lamps to place between their legs to help heal delicate body tissues from episiotomies.
Sandy peered over her bent knees. She thought the three of them looked like they were on a camping trip with their legs creating pup tents from draped sheets and glowing lights. Next, they sat in baths of scorching water and Epsom salts to soften the stitches. Each agreed she felt split into pieces, both physically and emotionally. I feel like a robot, Sandy thought. I’m going through the motions to survive each moment.
The roommates, normally very chatty with each other, were unnervingly quiet. Each girl seemed to brood on what was to come.
“How are we expected to walk away without seeing our babies?” Becca murmured.
“How are we supposed to forget we were here?” Faith whispered. Faith gazed toward the stricken faces of Becca and Sandy. “I’ve never shared the intimate details of my life with others. I’m afraid I never will again.”
Sandy remembered the nightly stories Faith shared with them while they were lying in their beds. She wished she could erase the attack on her innocent friend from her mind.
Sandy considered herself a counselor to Becca and Faith. Maybe it was her so-called worldly experience that shoved her forward as the adult-in-charge when they asked questions or needed a pep talk. In the days after the babies’ births, Sandy exercised that control and laid the future groundwork.
“Let’s devise stories about where we have been and what we have been doing. Becca, what will you tell those who ask about the past seven months?”
“I’ve been on a marvelous trip to Europe,” Becca rolled her eyes.
“Okay, but that’s the beginning of your story. We need to know places you stayed, what you ate, and if you met any handsome boys.” Sandy pointed to fingers on her hand as she counted the items.
“I’m on a mission trip to the less fortunate in Africa,” Faith said. “I have been offering backyard Bible classes to children of the patients in the clinic.”
“And I have been with my dying mother in Illinois,” Sandy said. It sounded worse when she said it out loud than in her head.
“Is your mother dying? I hate for you to make up a story like that if it’s not true.”
“She might as well be,” Sandy said harshly. “I won’t ever see her again.”
Sandy saw Becca and Faith’s disparaging glances about her statement but continued with her tutelage for all to be well-rehearsed when they arrived home.
Several days passed before the nurses signed release forms for the roommates. Their house parents called Faith’s and Becca’s parents and planned for their return trips home. Sandy felt a little left out of the trip planning but knew she would take a streetcar back to her apartment. Then, as abruptly as it all started, they said goodbye to each other.
Faith said she did not want to release her friends without a plan for correspondence, at the very least.
“Let’s agree,” Faith said. “Every year on August 22, we’ll wish our babies happy birthday, and get in touch with each other to continue our friendships.”
Sandy and Becca acquiesced silently, knowing this oath would be difficult to keep.
“We’ll each light a candle on that day and say a prayer that our babies are happy and our lives are turning out the way we intended.” Becca amended Faith’s statement.
“I’ll never forget you two, and this experience,” Faith said, her eyes filling. “You’ll always be the most important women in my life.”
Sandy drew Becca and Faith toward her, which for her was an unusual motion. Tears were streaming down Becca and Faith’s faces. They appeared to outsiders in a football huddle, arms wrapped tightly around each other, heads bowed. But, Sandy’s face was stoic, and her jaw clenched. I never cared about having girlfriends, she thought. But these girls are closer to me than sisters. The intensity of her feelings toward them surprised her.
A knock at the door alerted them, and they walked out of the Home, where they lived for seven months, and back into their former lives. All three left without babies in their arms. That act alone bound them together.
About the Author
Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She has a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She has been an educator, Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven College, administrator, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS. 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 (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public. She 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. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband Emmerson and two Labrador Retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.
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