The Degenerates

By J. Albert Mann

Overview

In the tradition of Girl, Interrupted, this fiery historical novel follows four young women in the early 20th century whose lives intersect when they are locked up by a world that took the poor, the disabled, the marginalized-and institutionalized them for life.

The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded is not a happy place. The young women who are already there certainly don’t think so. Not Maxine, who is doing everything she can to protect her younger sister Rose in an institution where vicious attendants and bullying older girls treat them as the morons, imbeciles, and idiots the doctors have deemed them to be. Not Alice, either, who was left there when her brother couldn’t bring himself to support a sister with a club foot. And not London, who has just been dragged there from the best foster situation she’s ever had, thanks to one unexpected, life-altering moment. Each girl is determined to change her fate, no matter what it takes.

Trigger Warning
“The author portrays the movement’s prejudice, racism, and violence with brutal realism; an author’s note explains that the doctors’ dehumanizing dialogue comes verbatim from real medical notes. Crucially, she reminds readers that such prejudice still exists. . . . Respectful, unflinching, and eye-opening.” — Kirkus Reviews
Due to the sensitive nature of the content, some readers may be triggered by the following themes.
Strong language
The history of the eugenics movement in the United States
Teen pregnancy and miscarriage
Abuse (physical, psychological, neglect)
Racism, homophobia, discrimination
Prison-like atmosphere
Fire
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The Degenerates

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