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Home for the Friendless: Finding Hope, Love, and Family Hardcover – November 1, 2010

29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


I truly got lost in the wonderful world of Betty Auchard's memory. I loved how the narrator at three years of age used the language available to her, just as the narrator did at nine, fifteen, etc. So much can come from such a vulnerable "unreliable narrator" and the author crafted this beautifully.

Betty's gift in writing comes from an understanding of how stories should move, how sentences should flow, and her ability to draw from her past in order to present the reader with texture, pathos, and so much humanity. --Joshua Braff, Author of Peep Show and The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green

Betty Auchard tells her amazing life story with purpose, humor, and no regret. Her tale is unique, yet universal, a collection of memories that expose her soul and will touch your heart. --Beth Miller, Former Program Coordinator for Beth Miller, Former Program Coordinator for the History Center of Cedar Rapids, IA

A wonderful reading experience. Poignant, brutally honest, sad, at times heartbreaking, and laughing-out-loud funny. Just as pearls are formed by grains of sand, Betty and her siblings were shaped by the adversity of hard times and a dysfunctional family with enough resolve to live life to the fullest --Charles D. Hayes, September University: Summoning Passion for an Unfinished Life

"One prominent aspect of her writing is her profound voice. She manages to portray her voices remarkably well during her various stages of life. Her innocence is touching in the stories of her youth, and her childhood ignorance adds a witty touch to some of the stories with adult themes." -- Hippocampus Magazine, July, 2011

"The Home for the Friendless is like a camera full of photographs waiting to be developed in the reader's mind." --Hippocampus Magazine, July, 2011

From the Inside Flap

Betty, the eldest of three children, narrates this poignant but hilarious story of growing up in an unconventional family during the Great Depression and WWII. Although poor in possessions, they live a life so rich in turmoil that it rivals any present-day sitcom.

Betty's parents marry young but don't know how to stay together, try as they might. They tie and untie the marital knot three times, and in between weddings they separate too many times to count.

When relatives become too weary to pick up the pieces yet again, Betty and her siblings are dropped off at The Home for the Friendless where they enjoy three meals a day, indoor plumbing, a grassy playground, and plenty of holiday parties.

When the family reunites two years later, the roller coaster resumes as they move many times across two states, proving that love overcomes all and that normal isn't always better. They jump from one escapade to another, and Betty shares them all with honesty and humor. Along the way, she develops into an independent young woman with a creative soul, a stubborn spirit, and a deep appreciation for family . . . even if that family happens to be a bit wacky


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: LifeStories; 1 edition (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935043269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935043263
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,582,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Betty Auchard is the author of the IPPY Award winning Dancing in my Nightgown: The Rhythms of Widowhood, endorsed by celebrity widows Jayne Meadows and Rosemarie Stack. In addition to writing, she enjoys presenting to audiences and narrating her own audio books. Her stories and essays have been published in the San Jose Mercury News, Today's Senior, and Chocolate for a Woman's Soul series. Betty lives and writes in Los Gatos, California.
Visit the author at and join her fans on Facebook.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Laura Strathman Hulka aka Readerwoman on November 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Home for the Friendless: Finding hope, Love, and Family by Betty (Peal) Auchard is a beautifully written tribute to the shaping of one family in times of trouble and hardship. I loved the voice of Betty within the pages; written as a child might think, with overtones of sad, world-weary pathos, and gentle self-deprecating humor. Although I am not of her generation (my parents were born in 1914, my oldest sister (13 years older) was born in 1939,) my upbringing included the lessons about the depression and the importance of family.

The book was charmingly divided into parts that dealt with the different aspects of Betty's growing years - and part 2 deals specifically with "Life at the Home for the Friendless." Thus, on page 59, you share with Auchard the unexpected and undesirable placement of herself and her siblings into this children's home in the winter of 1937. The hardest part was the separation from her sister Patty and brother Bobby. The rules were not onerous, but they were different and confusing. Her mother and grandmother came to visit sometimes, but the upheaval and strain was almost too much to bear. Although "The Home" was not the only children's facility in which the Peal children lived, it was typical of the times, and made a lasting impression.

Auchard's parents continually left one another, reunited, and then parted ways again. Although there were no diagnosis's of mental illness in those early days, it seems that Mrs. Peal was bi-polar, and her mood swings and her tempers created a tension in the family that made the times they were together worrisome. Yet Auchard shows her love of her parents in every page of the book, for although there were problems, family was family.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Barscoinc on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Home for the Friendless
Betty Auchard
Stephens Press /Life Stories
Review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

If your family is dysfunctional, you'll grow up twisted like a tree in a tornado, right? Betty Auchard seems to be saying: wrong. Lots of people, like herself and her siblings, grow up in weird, wacky, emotionally-charged situations, but that's only half the story. There can be love even in such trying circumstances, enough to give you balance.

Auchard is a warm, connected storyteller and her childhood memories range from harrowing to hilarious. Her mother, who clearly could have benefited from a prescription for anti-depressants, broke every dish in the house in the throes of uncontrollable rages that came on with little warning, while her father patiently put up with it, with a little help from the local barroom. The fact that the family had to move many times, and lived in depressing near-poverty much of the time, did not help. Betty and her two younger siblings were confused and defensive about their parents' goings on, even lying to relatives about it and keeping mum when the police showed up to keep the peace.

The children got a respite for a couple of years when they were put in a place called The Home for the Friendless. Despite the depressing name and the fact that the kids were separated into Girls, Boys, and Nursery, Betty found comfort at the Home. Unrestricted by the wars between her mother and father, she found some creative gifts and skills, enjoying the quietness, the camaraderie, and the routine. Then, again without notice, the kids were taken back by their mom. Mother and father broke up and reunited in a dizzying "accordion marriage" that left the children more puzzled and on edge.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bingo-Karen Haney VINE VOICE on November 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
THE HOME FOR THE FRIENDLESS: FINDING HOPE, LOVE, AND FAMILY by Betty Auchard is a warm, entertaining, and time relevant look back at the author's young life with her family from Iowa growing up during the depression age generation years. Narrated by Betty Auchard as a young child through her teen years, from her own memory and stories she gathered from family members, THE HOME FOR THE FRIENDLESS is honest and poignant while still having many parts that make you smile and laugh. Betty tells how her parents loved each other in their own way but parted and then got back together many times over the years. Although they did this, the narration still resonates with love for her parents no matter what situation the children were put in, especially since it is told from a loving child's point of view.

The book is divided into periods of Betty's life with charming photographs taken during those times. Part One tells of The Early Years and is filled with tales of family and bed wetting, thumb sucking, and holiday parties which believe it or not, carries over into Part Two Life at the Home for the Friendless. Although the children were often left with relatives during tough times or times when their parents were apart, Part Two at the home was the first time that was a very different point in Betty's life. She recalls everything from being afraid at first to making toothpaste into peppermint candy, as well as celebrations and education in all forms! Other parts do talk about other places the children stayed but THE HOME FOR THE FRIENDLESS seemed to make the biggest impression on the author.

Part Three goes into living in their first home on 32nd Street as A Real Family and moves into what it was like growing up during the war in the next two parts.
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