This book is so titled because the main characters assume other identities. The novel is set between 1913-1915, and is narrated using the voices of Jeanne, the mother; Effie, her daughter; and Mable, a central character. There is another daughter, Luella. Her voice is heard through dialogue and conversation.
Luella, age 16, and considered an adult at the time, is openly defiant to her very wealthy parents. She runs away and joins a gypsy camp. Effie, her 13-year-old sister, has a heart condition. Effie thinks her sister is at the House of Mercy, a home for wayward girls. She believes this because their father threatened to send Luella there if she kept being defiant. Things now begin to derail.
Effie, under an assumed name, is brought to the House of Mercy and realizes shortly upon arrival that her sister is not there. Effie begins to navigate different waters and begins thinking how to flee. She encounters Mabel, another girl living there, also under an assumed name. Mabel has a definite plan in mind for escape.
Mabel and Effie have a dependent relationship. They are not true friends, but rely on each other’s gifts and talents to survive. Their relationship deepens as time goes on.
“Girls With No Names” is a quick story to read. Its theme has elements of trust and redemption. The writing is fair and the story somewhat plausible. But the ending is predictable, with few minor surprises, making the book lack high tension.
While the author describes emotions, I never felt strongly pulled into her story. The Epilogue would have served the reader better if it had been the Prologue. However, I found the description of the turn of the 20th century accurate.