I didn’t realize until after I was done reading it, but this novel is inspired by real people – Chapman’s great grandparents. That made it so much more endearing to me.
The story is told from the perspective of Stefania (Stella) Marzewska, a 16-year-old living an impoverished, miserable life in 1906 Poland. Her parents had passed away, and she is living a mostly miserable life of toil, abuse, and no appreciation, with her brother, his wife and their children. Her only rays of sunshine come from her sweet little niece, Bronia, and her best friend, Andrzejek and his brother, Oliwjer, who truly love her.
Despite the love she feels with them, her heart yearns for a change – for freedom, independence, and a fresh start. With the help of her brother, Wiktor, and her best friend, she is able to make the very difficult journey to Baltimore in America.
Stella meets people on her journey whose influence will remain with her forever, though she will never see them again. It brings a great message of how we can change people’s lives by being kind and interested in their well-being.
Life in America is different, and in some ways better. But, it still comes with countless hours of work, undesired changes, fallings out with siblings, men who desire her who confuse her, and friends who leave.
One thing I love about the novel is that Stella, though likable, has a lot of flaws. She is stubborn, distant, sometimes cold, and slow to forgive. On the other hand, she is beautiful but not prideful; she is tender-hearted and loves deeply; she works very hard to earn her living; and most importantly, she never loses hope for the future. She just keeps going even when the wind only seems to blow disappointments and hardship her way.
Stella’s story is one of survival, one of hope, one of self-discovery. When she finally lets herself be vulnerable, she finds the happiness she so desperately longs for.
There are many characters in the book, and all have their own stories of hardship and a search for something better. Some make very poor choices, out of desperation or selfishness, and others understand Stella completely, helping her find herself in this new world.
The Forgotten Girl is a quick read, but so enjoyable. I am glad I read it. I felt that I learned more about my own country, and the people from other nations who have helped bring diversity and richness to it. Read it. You will be moved and inspired
This book was so great! I enjoyed the plot, the characters, the settings. And what made it even better for me was when I got to the end of the book and realized that it's actually a fictionalized account of the author's ancestors. I LOVE that kind of thing!
The whole book is from the perspective of Stella. Things were not ideal for her as she was living in Poland. I loved the love you could tell Stella had for her sweet niece. But even that was not enough to keep her in Poland in her circumstances. I loved that Stella was willing to step into the unknown and move to America, against her brother's wishes.
I hadn't realized just how hard life would have been for those who immigrated. She wouldn't have known the language or anyone at all beyond her brother who helped her to immigrate. Wow! I don't think that would be something I could do, even in our time of ease and she had none of the modern convenience we have.
The author of this book did such a great job, weaving her family lore into a novel that will keep you turning it's pages late into the night trying to figure out just what happened to the character!
Right from the beginning this book drew me in and made me feel! It was so beautifully written with wonderful detail and excellent character development. Stella is so sweet, yet strong, and someone you want to see succeed. She is easy to root for and you feel so proud of her accomplishments and growth. The book was very well researched, and very clearly came from more than the imagination. Even though it is historical fiction, Heather’s decision to base the characters off of ancestors gave the book a heart. I loved loved this book and can’t wait for more from Heather Chapman!