Oklahoma. October, 1942. In a maternity home in Tulsa, a baby girl is born to an unwed high-school senior. The staff are already looking for a family for the child. Whom will they choose? Who will shape her life? The chosen couple are Ella & Jim Hinkle of the town of Apex. Theirs is a second marriage. Jim was widowed when a tornado killed his first wife, their young son and unborn baby, . Since their marriage Ella has wanted nothing more than to give Jim children, to replace, in her mind at least, the ones he lost. Her health is fragile following near-fatal blood loss at the end of her final pregnancy. Jim seems to have recovered from the breakdown which followed the storm, but you never know. The morning of the twister, he'd been told that the bank would repossess his land. For years, Jim and his father Elmo had seen themselves as caretakers of the land and custodians of the family's future. The double loss pushed Jim over the edge into deep depression. For months he camped out beside the wreckage, unresponsive to family and friends, digging, digging, digging for who-know-what. Folks thought he might have to go to the asylum. The Hinkles name their baby Peggy Ann. She's the only adopted child in Apex. Soon Ella learns that the local busybodies are whispering that Peggy Ann is a "child of sin," who shouldn't be allowed to grow up among the children of "decent families." She knows the gossip will follow the child as long as they live in Apex. As WWII starts, a labor shortage begins to grow as men join the military. Jim hasn't been able to get a job since the twister. He pitches in a the Apex Advocate, where his brother-in-law, John Munro is editor, learning to run and maintain the cranky old press. He shows an aptitude for the work, and John writes to an old friend who now works on the presses at the Newark News, and Jim is assured of a job. Neither Ella nor Jim has ever lived anywhere but Apex, but they take the bold step of moving East. In New Jersey, they are daily faced with situations for which they have no precedent. Before Ella and the baby join him, Jim pushes through the wartime housing shortage to find a place to live. With misgivings he rents two rooms in the home of a co-worker's relative. Her house is immaculate and her flowerbeds show loving care, but she's Italian, speaks peculiar accented English and is a Catholic. Ella and Mrs. G., however, quickly become dear friends, and the older woman becomes like a grandmother for Peggy Ann. When Peggy Ann graduates from high school with high marks, Jim vetoes college. Peggy Ann falls in love and wants to marry Mike Hanlon, and Jim says, "You're not marrying some Catholic foreigner." All this time Ella and Jim have kept the secret of the Peggy Ann's adoption. After Ella's funeral back in Oklahoma, Peggy Ann finally learns the truth. She's devastated. Ella has always been like a warm, loving place inside her. Now the connection seems broken. How could they lie to her? Who was she really? Why was she given up? Was there something awful about her birth? Rape? These questions are asked by many adoptees, but for Peggy Ann, they carry special weight as she seeks to recover her serene, peaceful center.
Adoption & Grace After the Storm
eBook (07 Apr 2017)
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