Focusing on a little-known WWI-era government campaign to imprison women who'd contracted "social diseases," Lowenthal (The Same Embrace; Avoidance) follows the travails of a 17-year-old Boston girl as she's put through the system's wringer. Frieda Mintz is a bundle wrapper at a department store living on her own when she meets Felix Morse, an army private. After a date at a Red Sox game, they sleep together. Not long after, Mrs. Sprague from the "Committee on Prevention of Social Evils Surrounding Military Camps," hounds Frieda at her workplace because Felix, during an inspection that uncovers he has an infection, names Frieda as his "last contact." After her case of "the whites" flares up and she loses her job, Frieda follows Felix to Camp Devens, where she's arrested and put into quarantine. Behind bars, she befriends Flossie Collins, and the two are sent to a detention camp, where they undergo crude medical treatment and perform mandatory manual labor alongside a host of other quarantined women. As her body heals and conditions worsen at the detention center, tensions rise to a wrenching climax. Lowenthal ably captures the transformation of a naïve adolescent into a woman in his provocative story. (Jan.)
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In 1918, thousands of U.S. women were detained on suspicion of having venereal diseases. It was thought that these women would infect U.S. soldiers and thus harm the war effort. Lowenthal's novel imagines the plight of one such woman, 17-year-old Frieda Mintz. Frieda has left her repressive mother and an arranged marriage to an older man for the glamour of the big city. One impulsive night with an infected soldier costs Frieda her job and eventually her freedom. Once imprisoned, she meets a somewhat stereotypical cast of women, including fast-talking prostitutes and a manipulative lesbian who misuses her authority in an attempted seduction. Although an appended author's note draws parallels between this little-known chapter in American history and the present wars on terror and AIDS, the connections are not implicit in the text. This is an interesting, if flawed, fictional introduction to a disturbing part of our history. Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It was okay. Interesting concept and story, but went on a little longer than I preferred. I was a little bored by the end of the story.Published 1 month ago by tori
As a historical novel, Charity Girl covers a fascinating situation. Industrialization and mercantilism have created opportunities for women to survive without the protection of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Breakaway Farm
This was an unusuel and informative story I had. Never heard of this treatment of young womenPublished 5 months ago by HELEN LYNCH
The story in this book is told partly through narration partly as first-person, but either way, it is an engaging tale of life in the World War 1 era. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jeanne F. Brooks
This book highlights a dark era in American history when women had few rights. The story illuminates the shameful way some women were treated during WWI years in regard to veneral... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Harriet
A really strange subject for a novel. The main character was naive, weak and uninformed. Would not recommend this for anyone.Published 7 months ago by memard
Reading it right now & enjoying it. Lynne from SellersvillePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer