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Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions

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In an ambitious blend of fact and fiction, including family secrets, documents from the era, and a thin, fragmentary case file unsealed by the court, novelist Sheila O’Connor tells the riveting story of V, a talented fifteen-year-old singer in 1930s Minneapolis who aspires to be a star. Drawing on the little-known American practice of incarcerating adolescent girls for “im In an ambitious blend of fact and fiction, including family secrets, documents from the era, and a thin, fragmentary case file unsealed by the court, novelist Sheila O’Connor tells the riveting story of V, a talented fifteen-year-old singer in 1930s Minneapolis who aspires to be a star. Drawing on the little-known American practice of incarcerating adolescent girls for “immorality” in the first half of the twentieth century, O’Connor follows young V from her early work as a nightclub entertainer to her subsequent six-year state school sentence for an unplanned pregnancy. As V struggles to survive within a system only nominally committed to rescue and reform, she endures injustices that will change the course of her life and the lives of her descendants. Inspired by O’Connor’s research on her unknown maternal grandmother and the long-term effects of intergenerational trauma, Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions is a poignant excavation of familial and national history that remains disturbingly relevant—a harrowing story of exploitation and erasure, and the infinite ways in which girls, past and present, are punished for crimes they didn’t commit. O’Connor’s collage novel offers an engaging balance between illuminating a shameful and hidden chapter of American history and captivating the reader with the vivid and unforgettable character of V.


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In an ambitious blend of fact and fiction, including family secrets, documents from the era, and a thin, fragmentary case file unsealed by the court, novelist Sheila O’Connor tells the riveting story of V, a talented fifteen-year-old singer in 1930s Minneapolis who aspires to be a star. Drawing on the little-known American practice of incarcerating adolescent girls for “im In an ambitious blend of fact and fiction, including family secrets, documents from the era, and a thin, fragmentary case file unsealed by the court, novelist Sheila O’Connor tells the riveting story of V, a talented fifteen-year-old singer in 1930s Minneapolis who aspires to be a star. Drawing on the little-known American practice of incarcerating adolescent girls for “immorality” in the first half of the twentieth century, O’Connor follows young V from her early work as a nightclub entertainer to her subsequent six-year state school sentence for an unplanned pregnancy. As V struggles to survive within a system only nominally committed to rescue and reform, she endures injustices that will change the course of her life and the lives of her descendants. Inspired by O’Connor’s research on her unknown maternal grandmother and the long-term effects of intergenerational trauma, Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions is a poignant excavation of familial and national history that remains disturbingly relevant—a harrowing story of exploitation and erasure, and the infinite ways in which girls, past and present, are punished for crimes they didn’t commit. O’Connor’s collage novel offers an engaging balance between illuminating a shameful and hidden chapter of American history and captivating the reader with the vivid and unforgettable character of V.

30 review for Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Mejia

    I was crying, enraged, changed, and wrung out by this stunning history Sheila O'Connor has uncovered and sculpted. In the first half of the 20th century, American girls were sentenced and imprisoned for "immorality," including O'Connor's maternal grandmother. The book weaves fact and fiction together and my knee-jerk impulse is to define it, to find the right words to categorize, and I’m resisting that reaction because this story has absolutely nothing to do with genre. That’s the wrong conversa I was crying, enraged, changed, and wrung out by this stunning history Sheila O'Connor has uncovered and sculpted. In the first half of the 20th century, American girls were sentenced and imprisoned for "immorality," including O'Connor's maternal grandmother. The book weaves fact and fiction together and my knee-jerk impulse is to define it, to find the right words to categorize, and I’m resisting that reaction because this story has absolutely nothing to do with genre. That’s the wrong conversation. The right conversation is what this disturbing and secretive history says about this country’s relationship with women. An important and unforgettable read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lin Salisbury

    In the winter of 2001, Sheila O’Connor accompanied her mother, June to the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul in search of information on her mother’s birth and adoption, armed with a letter from the court granting her mother’s access to her own history. O’Connor’s mother was born in 1935 at the Minnesota Home School for Girls in Sauk Centre, MN. She was the daughter of a fifteen-year-old inmate, referred to as V, who was serving a six-year sentence for incorrigibili In the winter of 2001, Sheila O’Connor accompanied her mother, June to the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul in search of information on her mother’s birth and adoption, armed with a letter from the court granting her mother’s access to her own history. O’Connor’s mother was born in 1935 at the Minnesota Home School for Girls in Sauk Centre, MN. She was the daughter of a fifteen-year-old inmate, referred to as V, who was serving a six-year sentence for incorrigibility. For the next decade, O’Connor studied texts and academic articles on the history of female incarceration and the criminalization of female sexuality. What she discovered was the systemic institutionalization of girls who had been deemed immoral or in danger of becoming immoral – some of them as young as six years old. In actuality, many of these girls were victims of physical or sexual abuse prior to their commitments -- victims blamed for the actions of their perpetrators. At the center of the novel is the question: who was V and what happened to her? V had a gift for dancing and singing and aspirations for Hollywood, leaving her vulnerable, a target for unscrupulous men who wished to take advantage of her youth and naivety. Her father was dead and her mother remarried and was often working and inattentive. When V became pregnant by the much older manager of the club where she performed, she was incarcerated at the Home School, an institution whose motive was to socially readjust girls and make them decent wives, mothers, and home-makers. The girls worked in the fields and learned to cook, clean and sew; all emphasized as aspects necessary for keeping a proper home. After their babies were born, the young mothers were required to nurse their infants for the first three months before the child was put up for adoption as a “kind of reparation for having brought him into the world so handicapped.” V was not released immediately, in fact most of the young girls were put on probation for a period of several years after their children were born and sent to work for families as domestic servants. Evidence of V, A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions is a hybrid novel; without access to much of V’s story, O’Connor wrote a fictional one based upon the facts she was able to glean from documents, records, and observations of experts in the juvenile justice system. She filled in the gaps with poetry and fiction in an attempt to piece together the life of her grandmother, a life she hoped would explain the familial trauma that had been passed down through the generations. Evidence of V is a compelling read – the story of V and all that was stolen from her, the criminalization of female sexuality, the forced adoptions and servitude and morality. In an era of turning back a woman’s right to choose, Evidence of V is a manifesto for women; a poignant reminder of the importance of female autonomy during a time when the rights of women are becoming increasingly politicized. Evidence of V will be published in October and is available for pre-order from your favorite bookstore. Listen to my interview with Sheila O’Connor on Superior Reads September 26 at 7:00 pm. Sheila will be presenting at the North Shore Readers and Writers Festival November 7-10. Watch the Grand Marais Art Colony website for registration information.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Morton

    Ugh, this was heartbreaking. As the subtitle “a novel in fragments, facts, and fictions” alludes, this is the reconstruction of the author’s maternal grandmother’s short and brutal life, stitched together from sparse fragments of historical records and scenes from the author’s life (though the moments the author truly appears are rare here. Tdepth of the V character and her story - the way she just leaps off the page to start and crushes you with her end - has to be mostly “fictions” but it all j Ugh, this was heartbreaking. As the subtitle “a novel in fragments, facts, and fictions” alludes, this is the reconstruction of the author’s maternal grandmother’s short and brutal life, stitched together from sparse fragments of historical records and scenes from the author’s life (though the moments the author truly appears are rare here. Tdepth of the V character and her story - the way she just leaps off the page to start and crushes you with her end - has to be mostly “fictions” but it all just breathes with life and “facts”. This is one of those books that hurt my chest to read, but i guess that means it’s working...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I bought this book after listening to the author read bits of it last night--and finished the book sometime during the night. What was done to young women and girls who were considered immoral is shocking, and my feelings swung between anger and sadness. Thank you, Sheila, for bringing this painful story to light.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bridgett

    This book blows me away. Fact, fiction, history, memory, collective imagination—the blurred genre is perfect for a story of such magnitude. I could not put it down.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Fascinating. O'Connor mixes fiction with history in a captivating read about a young mother in the 1930s. Fascinating. O'Connor mixes fiction with history in a captivating read about a young mother in the 1930s.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Piyali Mukherjee

    This book made me realize what intergenerational trauma means. This book also made me understand what bio-mythography means. This book is also the first of its kind. It merges fact, fiction, the act of writing, the act of uncovering a family's long-buried secret, the generations of women tolerating abuse and the devotion of reconciliation. Reading this book felt like a very meditative experience. The author was telling me a story, and yes stories are usually fiction, but fiction also pieces toge This book made me realize what intergenerational trauma means. This book also made me understand what bio-mythography means. This book is also the first of its kind. It merges fact, fiction, the act of writing, the act of uncovering a family's long-buried secret, the generations of women tolerating abuse and the devotion of reconciliation. Reading this book felt like a very meditative experience. The author was telling me a story, and yes stories are usually fiction, but fiction also pieces together historical fragments to make a whole. The author pieces her family together as a whole, and through this provides continuity to her children. Moving from narrative prose, to poetry, to lists, to quotes and even to puzzling games, the chapters unfold a difficult story of a young woman whose story was forcibly erased. This is not usually the kind of book I read, but I am so glad to have read it. The book is the author's journey to piece together her family's history by uncovering state and federal laws that prohibit this history from being realized. The protagonist (V) is created through the combination of history, federal records, court rulings, diary entries and parole comments. She is also created through the "collages of girls" that the author must paste into her in order to complete her picture. Her story reveals the pain of families rife with abuse, the idea and penalties for being an "incorrigible delinquent" and yet being labeled a criminal for 15-year-old teenager who likes games and candy. The final chapter of the book is an essay on delinquent penitentiaries in the state. While most of the work is research that the author did for her book, the essay also highlights what the nature of the state and penitentiaries can be in shaping moral views of women in society.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Short, but such intrigue. This is one of the types of stories that keeps family members and genealogist digging for clues for years. I can only hope that this books and more stories like it help foster in different amendments to laws placed to hide the lives of these girls, which certainly would help bring healing to their descendents... Or maybe more questions. At the very least, it would lessen the mysteries and shed light on the abuses these girls were subjected to both in and out of institut Short, but such intrigue. This is one of the types of stories that keeps family members and genealogist digging for clues for years. I can only hope that this books and more stories like it help foster in different amendments to laws placed to hide the lives of these girls, which certainly would help bring healing to their descendents... Or maybe more questions. At the very least, it would lessen the mysteries and shed light on the abuses these girls were subjected to both in and out of institutionalization.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kate Johnson

    I could not put this book down. The unconventional style speaks volumes to how family stories are pieced together: through snippets of facts, generational storytelling, with our own experiences filling in the gaps. This book particularly struck a chord with me as my own grandmother was a teacher at the home school in Sauk Centre, MN in the 60s-80s, not long after V herself was there. An absolute fascinating read that will stick with me for awhile.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Couldn't put it down - a compelling tale from Minnesota's past. And the writing! Original, lyrical. Loved this book. Couldn't put it down - a compelling tale from Minnesota's past. And the writing! Original, lyrical. Loved this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heather Diamond

    Part memoir and part fiction, this book is breathtaking--innovative in its braided form and mix of facts and imagined narrative, disturbing in its revelations about how young women were ostracized and disciplined for their perceived "immorality." As we follow the narrator's efforts to unearth her mother's adoption history, we are dawn into the hidden history of incarceration for girls deemed socially aberrant. The fictional thread that imagines the life of the missing grandmother is a spellbindi Part memoir and part fiction, this book is breathtaking--innovative in its braided form and mix of facts and imagined narrative, disturbing in its revelations about how young women were ostracized and disciplined for their perceived "immorality." As we follow the narrator's efforts to unearth her mother's adoption history, we are dawn into the hidden history of incarceration for girls deemed socially aberrant. The fictional thread that imagines the life of the missing grandmother is a spellbinding and poignant reminder of both personal and social loss when women's voices are silenced.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lee Cornell

    I first gave this a "4" because it is so hard to categorize, but the more I think about it, the author has presented this story in the best way possible. \ The novel is primarily the story of the author's biological grandmother, who became pregnant in Minneapolis at the age of 15. She was sent off to the Minnesota Home for Girls in Sauk Center, to remain there until the age of 21 or until "reformed". It consists of the fragments of factual material found in historical records dealing with her gra I first gave this a "4" because it is so hard to categorize, but the more I think about it, the author has presented this story in the best way possible. \ The novel is primarily the story of the author's biological grandmother, who became pregnant in Minneapolis at the age of 15. She was sent off to the Minnesota Home for Girls in Sauk Center, to remain there until the age of 21 or until "reformed". It consists of the fragments of factual material found in historical records dealing with her grandmother, the author's own questions about what things must have been or could have been, and a story told filling in a story that is as true as it can be. It is sad that such a relatively short time ago we managed to create such horrific institutions.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    This was a book club read. It started out a little dull for me, but as it went on I began to picture V in the streets of Minneapolis, walking through the snow. I could see her at Sauk Center with the other girls, being tough and plotting how to survive and get out. I felt her love for June and the way she thought of her every day. Also showed how this wasn’t just a punishment for V, but for all of her descendants; the trauma hasn’t stopped. It made me feel grateful for all the women who have fou This was a book club read. It started out a little dull for me, but as it went on I began to picture V in the streets of Minneapolis, walking through the snow. I could see her at Sauk Center with the other girls, being tough and plotting how to survive and get out. I felt her love for June and the way she thought of her every day. Also showed how this wasn’t just a punishment for V, but for all of her descendants; the trauma hasn’t stopped. It made me feel grateful for all the women who have fought for women rights and our equality over the years. And it was a pretty crazy history lesson.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liv

    In Evidence of V, Sheila O’Connor has created a strikingly original, beautifully-written book that mixes fiction with nonfiction. The book is a skillfully-created collage that puts together lists, questions, snatches of memory, and authorial explanation next to excerpts from historical documents and newspaper stories. Through all of this runs a fictional narrative, the imagined story of O’Connor’s grandmother, that fills in the spaces left by the one-sided historical evidence and the insufficien In Evidence of V, Sheila O’Connor has created a strikingly original, beautifully-written book that mixes fiction with nonfiction. The book is a skillfully-created collage that puts together lists, questions, snatches of memory, and authorial explanation next to excerpts from historical documents and newspaper stories. Through all of this runs a fictional narrative, the imagined story of O’Connor’s grandmother, that fills in the spaces left by the one-sided historical evidence and the insufficient memory. This fictional narrative brings to life a character, V, so individual and vivid that we can almost touch her, see her, and feel with her. We won’t soon forget her. In O’Connor’s compelling book, author becomes detective, looking for clues about her grandmother and gradually, as we watch, putting together the pieces of a puzzle. She reveals a deeply upsetting history. In the first half of the 20th century, girls in the United States were incarcerated, stripped of their rights, forced away from their families, emotionally and physically abused, and made to work against their will, without any control over their circumstances, all because of behavior judged, often frivolously, as “immoral.” In showing the terrible things that were done to young, poor, vulnerable girls in the past, she also sheds important insight on troubling attitudes and beliefs that continue to shape the lives of girls and women today. Investigating a dark, little-known history of a legal system that worked against girls and women, O’Connor turns the tables and uncovers the real crimes, not committed by girls but against them. It is a true-crime book, in a way, one that ignites compassion and a desire for justice in the reader. The author/narrator is an important character here, too, visible between the fragments she is piecing together. She is like the archetypal flawed-but-good detective, haunted by what she knows and driven on by an almost obsessive duty to truth, the mystery of her own life intimately connected to that of the woman she’s looking for. Even as the book investigates institutional and societal abuses, it is always deeply personal, the story of a woman’s desire to understand, through a hidden past that might hold the clues, the reverberating effects of trauma, the difficult relationship with her own mother, and the truth about her own life. Evidence of V is a book, but it is also an act of fierce empathy, restitution, and brave resistance against lies and forgetting. It reminds us of qualities we need now more than ever. This is a spellbinding book that demonstrates the author’s skill as a storyteller and a masterful use of experimental form. I couldn’t put it down!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    This is such a beautifully written novel. Because the women are no longer alive, and cannot tell their own story, O’Connor does. However, because she does not want to try and write about an experience she did not live, she takes what she learned in research and what was in her grandmother’s file to create “a novel in fragments, facts and fictions”, as declared on the cover. While reading her book, I was reminded through the poetry, lines from laws on delinquency, and commentary in brackets, that This is such a beautifully written novel. Because the women are no longer alive, and cannot tell their own story, O’Connor does. However, because she does not want to try and write about an experience she did not live, she takes what she learned in research and what was in her grandmother’s file to create “a novel in fragments, facts and fictions”, as declared on the cover. While reading her book, I was reminded through the poetry, lines from laws on delinquency, and commentary in brackets, that although she is writing this story and doing her best to tell it accurately, she is incapable of telling it. Only the young women that experienced punishment for delinquency can tell their story. She appeals to ethos, logos, and pathos wrapped tightly together to create this powerful story that was almost forgotten.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    This book has an inventive design by merging excerpts from historical records, fragments of knowledge from official files and her own creativity to piece together the life of her maternal grandmother who at age 15 became pregnant and sentenced to an institution, the MN Home School for Girls, where she would be "reformed". With an economy of words, O'Connor captured the cruelty and injustice that her grandmother faced from the threads of historical records and her own imagination. She also posed This book has an inventive design by merging excerpts from historical records, fragments of knowledge from official files and her own creativity to piece together the life of her maternal grandmother who at age 15 became pregnant and sentenced to an institution, the MN Home School for Girls, where she would be "reformed". With an economy of words, O'Connor captured the cruelty and injustice that her grandmother faced from the threads of historical records and her own imagination. She also posed questions without answers about how aspects of her grandmother's lived experiences were transferred to her and her mother. This was a beautifully constructed book that focused on one family but also illuminated a shameful history that is part of collective memory in my state.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vogl

    A story that needs to be told. A master class in how to craft a novel that walks the line between fiction and nonfiction.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lavonne

    I read this book in less than 24 hours. Having attended high school just 25 miles from Sauk Centre, I had been aware of the "reform school's" existence, but I knew nothing about the atrocities that happened there to juvenile girls. I myself could have been one of the girls at the institution had I been born 35 years earlier. The blend of family history with fiction keeps the reader engaged and wondering about all of the "white spaces" that will never be disclosed. I read this book in less than 24 hours. Having attended high school just 25 miles from Sauk Centre, I had been aware of the "reform school's" existence, but I knew nothing about the atrocities that happened there to juvenile girls. I myself could have been one of the girls at the institution had I been born 35 years earlier. The blend of family history with fiction keeps the reader engaged and wondering about all of the "white spaces" that will never be disclosed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Hannon

    Oh my gosh, this book got me. It’s about Sheila’s maternal grandmother, V, who was incarcerated in the Minnesota Home School for Girls for immorality in the 1930s. She got pregnant out of wedlock with Sheila’s mother when she was 15. When Sheila and her mother attempted to research V, the documentation they could find was scanty. They were forced to speculate about her life based on the evidence they could find to fill in the gaping holes in V’s story. This is a powerful, captivating read, told Oh my gosh, this book got me. It’s about Sheila’s maternal grandmother, V, who was incarcerated in the Minnesota Home School for Girls for immorality in the 1930s. She got pregnant out of wedlock with Sheila’s mother when she was 15. When Sheila and her mother attempted to research V, the documentation they could find was scanty. They were forced to speculate about her life based on the evidence they could find to fill in the gaping holes in V’s story. This is a powerful, captivating read, told in a way that made it feel very real. It’s part memoir, part fiction, and part exposé about a little-known social injustice. I couldn’t put it down.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jayne Martin

    Absolutely masterful in its weaving of fact, fiction, and memoir. By the end, I was devastated for V and enraged at the system that destroyed her. I was emotionally drawn in by the narrator and the way she moved the story from present to past and back again. The legacy of V's entrapment in a system designed to break her lives on in her heirs. A beautifully written, powerful book. Bravo!! Absolutely masterful in its weaving of fact, fiction, and memoir. By the end, I was devastated for V and enraged at the system that destroyed her. I was emotionally drawn in by the narrator and the way she moved the story from present to past and back again. The legacy of V's entrapment in a system designed to break her lives on in her heirs. A beautifully written, powerful book. Bravo!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shelley Odendahl

    A ground-breaking book about V, a teenage girl committed to a detention facility for being pregnant, "sexually delinquent," by the state of Minnesota in the 1930s. An innovative blend of fact and fiction, the treatment of girls then and now opens our eyes to hidden truths. I won't forget what I learned and felt reading this book. A ground-breaking book about V, a teenage girl committed to a detention facility for being pregnant, "sexually delinquent," by the state of Minnesota in the 1930s. An innovative blend of fact and fiction, the treatment of girls then and now opens our eyes to hidden truths. I won't forget what I learned and felt reading this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Simultaneously depressing and fascinating, this would be an interesting book to read and discuss in conjunction with The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. Simultaneously depressing and fascinating, this would be an interesting book to read and discuss in conjunction with The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Very creative writing style, poetic and captivating. Disturbing story of a pregnant girl committed to a reform school with harsh rules, training & punishment. Based on historical records from Home School for Girls, Sauk Center, MN and written by a Hamline University professor. I read this in one afternoon.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim Pederson

    A heartbreaking story beautifully conceived and written. Also an eyeopener regarding how "wayward" minor girls were unfairly sentenced, mistreated, and farmed out as what amounted to slave labor in this country in the 1930s. Everyone should read this! A heartbreaking story beautifully conceived and written. Also an eyeopener regarding how "wayward" minor girls were unfairly sentenced, mistreated, and farmed out as what amounted to slave labor in this country in the 1930s. Everyone should read this!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebeccamn

    This was so interesting. I loved the piecing together of facts and fiction, and the recognizable places!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol Spencer

    Compelling, hard to put down! Amazing fact and fiction novel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Boldon

    A haunting, loving and lovely account of a lost girl, and the institutional, historical attempts to erase her.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karla Sonnenberg

    I rarely take time to write a review, but this story moved me to share its depth. As an active family historian, I came across an interview with the author by accident. In her personal voice, she told of a family history which was both intriguing, mysterious and certainly incomplete. I was inspired to buy the book, but never did I imagine that I would enjoy it as much as I did. Reading someone else's family story can be challenging because the story is not your own. However, O'Connor managed to I rarely take time to write a review, but this story moved me to share its depth. As an active family historian, I came across an interview with the author by accident. In her personal voice, she told of a family history which was both intriguing, mysterious and certainly incomplete. I was inspired to buy the book, but never did I imagine that I would enjoy it as much as I did. Reading someone else's family story can be challenging because the story is not your own. However, O'Connor managed to weave such small increments of fact, historical context and personal flavor into the beautiful, yet tragic story of V. It made me think. It made me wonder. It made me want something better for the characters of her story and those like her still living in today's crazy world. The writing was somehow poetic and magical, yet nailed down with cold hard fact of what V's life must've been like. A beautiful story which needed to be told.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Neu | Claudianeureads

    n this novel by Sheila O'Connor, Evidence of V, tells a story of intergenerational trauma driven by the unknown. On a trip to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, O'Connor and her mother open her sealed adoption records, 65 years after her birth. The records reveal a dark untold history of Minnesota in the 1930's where the incarceration of young girls was common practice and how the women who had babies were forced to put them up for adoption. Using the information from her mother's file an n this novel by Sheila O'Connor, Evidence of V, tells a story of intergenerational trauma driven by the unknown. On a trip to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, O'Connor and her mother open her sealed adoption records, 65 years after her birth. The records reveal a dark untold history of Minnesota in the 1930's where the incarceration of young girls was common practice and how the women who had babies were forced to put them up for adoption. Using the information from her mother's file and a great deal of research, O'Connor writes a beautiful novel with pieces of fact woven into the telling of a dark history.⁠ ⁠ As an avid reader, Evidence of V, is a unique and captivating novel that reveals a dark history I never knew. From the first page, I was engrossed in the beautiful writing and the rare storytelling which incorporates narrative story telling, case studies, and excerpts of books from the 1930's. As a Minnesotan myself, reading about the untold history of the incarceration of girls as young as 13 was eye opening because of how common it was to punish girls who did not fit the societal norms. V, the main character, had big dreams of performing in the city which began with her dancing at the Cascade Club in Minneapolis. After V is caught leaving an older man's apartment, V is put on trial for her delinquency, specifically her pregnancy. In consequence, V's dreams are instantly taken away from her as she is sentenced to six years at the Minnesota Home for Girls where she will learn how to be a homemaker and successful wife in the future. 

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chantel Katharina

    I didn’t feel as horrified reading this as I probably should have been, but attribute this to the author’s decision to paint her grandmother as an agent as opposed to a simple subject/victim. This bothered me until I thought about what I’d let myself imagine if V were my own family member, just 2 generations back, and how the horrors are hard to hold. Loved the incorporation of historical documents and speeches, which add plenty dimension. Overall a 3 because I would have liked to invest in V mo I didn’t feel as horrified reading this as I probably should have been, but attribute this to the author’s decision to paint her grandmother as an agent as opposed to a simple subject/victim. This bothered me until I thought about what I’d let myself imagine if V were my own family member, just 2 generations back, and how the horrors are hard to hold. Loved the incorporation of historical documents and speeches, which add plenty dimension. Overall a 3 because I would have liked to invest in V more. Instead, it felt the author were the main character and V quite distant. This may be precisely the effect the author’s going for, mirroring her and her mother’s own inability to know, grasp, connect with V. Some readers will like this but I found myself wanting to identify more, feel further immersed.

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