Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She holds a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
She has been a Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi, 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.
Daily 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. A lifelong southerner, she now resides on a ranch in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband Emmerson and Labrador retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.
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"Goodbye. Why did that word begin with good? Did anything good ever come from leaving someone?"
In the midst of the historic era of the Beatles, the Civil Right’s Movement, Jim Crow, Vietnam, and Flower Children, another hidden history comes to the forefront in this astounding novel.
Three young girls find themselves in ‘the family way’, in the 1960s South, and all from very different circumstances. Each chapter alternating between characters - Sandy runs away from home, escaping her mother’s abusive boyfriend; Becca falls in love with a man of a different color; and Faith suffers a devastating attack. What do they all share in common? During this time period, if a girl found herself pregnant, she was sent away to be dealt with. These three unwed women from vastly different backgrounds share the same room in a maternity home in New Orleans with no support and no option other than to leave their babies there, give up their rights, and return home as if nothing ever happened. But during the time at the hospital, they become close friends and give each other the support lacking from their families. And each, in turn, give birth and are whisked away without any knowledge of their baby, the adoptive parents, or even the simple information if the child was a girl or a boy.
Hush, keep quiet... these topics (sex, pregnancy, rape, abandonment) were never talked about in polite society... All swept under the rug, like so many other emotions and problems for that generation.
The problem is that these life-altering events cannot ever be forgotten, and buried secrets have a way of rising to the surface.
Twenty-five years later, Sandy, Becca, and Faith are reunited in the most peculiar circumstances – a blackmailer sends them each a letter, threatening to reveal their secrets and destroy the lives they have built. Each of them now has a successful life, sure the secrets of the past will remain forever buried. But the shattering revelation will shake their very foundations of their families and their new lives, reverberating all the way to the White House, and the development of DNA testing to connect children with the mothers who were forced to give them up.
This story is told from the three women’s POV, and the narrative is based on the actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves unmarried and pressured by family and society to make the most horrific decision a mother can make – that of giving up a baby. While this story is heartbreaking, it is also an uplifting one of family and redemption; but also packs a punch with regret, stress, guilt, sorrow, and hopelessness.
Not only that but the way the author depicts the stark reality of life in the South is incredibly vivid, not to mention the racial tension and undercurrent pulsing throughout the storyline. All three women are white, but to see the racial experiences through their eyes, and through the eyes of some of their black friends, truly shows the injustice of the time period – a time when blacks had separate doors, water fountains, restaurant seating, bus seat allocation, and on and on.
These three girls experience is profound because they all three represent women who suffered the same fate during the 50s and 60s – and whose children grew up in a silenced world where often times they never knew they were adopted.
As a character-driven story, the character development is, without a doubt, first rate; and the use of the alternating chapters to tell each characters story is done seamlessly, moving the story forward without any languishing moments, and engaged my interest enough to keep me fully invested in knowing the outcome for each of the characters.
Ms Daily has a gift for setting, developing the storyline and the world to immerse the reader into the era using well-researched events and ideologies to recreate the ‘feel’ of this turbulent and revolutionary time in American history. And the issues of single motherhood and adoption weave throughout the narrative in a single binding thread making the story connect on a very personal level with many readers, to be sure. Not only that, but these three girls are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, friends, daughters, granddaughters, or aunts – they are all the women of that era who suffered the fate of time and circumstances – and is a social commentary, literary historical fiction, on the injustices wrought upon females of that era. This theme punches you in the heart, and does not deter anyone from being able to connect on a deep level with the book, rather it connects readers, male or female, on an universal level – a very authentic human level. And don’t forget to read the author’s notes, which give the reader insight into the author and the reasoning for writing this novel.
"Our own choices and those forced on us defined each of our paths."
“No Names to be Given” by Julia Brewer Daily is awarded five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award by The Historical Fiction Company