The Ties That Bind
The Throwaway Children by Diney Costeloe is a historical tale of love and loss, heartache and disappointment, bravery and courage. Set just after World War II and spanning nearly twenty years and two continents The Throwaway Children is a marvellous read. It made me smile, it made me cry and it made me angry.
The book is not called The Throwaway Children for nothing. It is a tale of unwanted children. Children who are thrown away because they are inconvenient. There were many orphans following the second world war and there were children who were believed to be orphans. Homes for unwanted children were set up. Some were run by people who believed they were improving the lot of the poor by removing their children but children will thrive where there is love and not if there isn’t. “She had done God’s work. Remorse and guilt never came to mind.” Do-gooders never saw the bigger picture, they were singularly focused in their aims, believing if they allied themselves with God, they were doing His work.
The novel has some very difficult scenes to read. There is domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse and unbelievable cruelty. Diney Costeloe pulls no punches, life was hard for unwanted children. I know it is a novel but there were times when I just felt so angry. Children are a gift from God. They are innocent, to be protected and loved. The children in the novel were unloved, unwanted and abused. They were corrupted by the very adults who should protect them. Diney Costeloe writes with such sensitivity that I ‘felt’ their pain.
The novel is not without hope. Great love was shown. Rita and Rosie’s father died in the war but their love for him persisted. “Her Daddy would always be her Daddy.” The bond between siblings was strong, as was the love of their maternal grandmother. Even in the bleakest of situations, hope glimmered.
The novel is written in the third person from several viewpoints but mainly seen through nine year old Rita’s eyes. Rita is strong, feisty, full of love and care, and vulnerable. The reader gets to know her intimately and I liked her.
The Throwaway Children is an epic read. It was all consuming and I was a mass of conflicting emotions by the end. It was brilliantly told. I can highly recommend the tale of a generation of throwaway children.