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The Lost Girls of Willowbrook  By  cover art

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook

By: Ellen Marie Wiseman
Narrated by: Morgan Hallett
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Publisher's Summary

In her most powerful novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Ellen Marie Wiseman masterfully viscerally evokes the real-life Willowbrook State School, the infamous Staten Island, New York, mental institution that shocked a nation when exposed in the 1970s as a dumping ground for unwanted children. Girl, Interrupted meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in this gripping narrative of social injustice, survival, and a young woman determined to find her sister.  

Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.  

Six years after Rosemary's death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage's stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn't die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.  

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It's always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined...

©2022 Ellen Marie Wiseman (P)2022 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Lost Girls of Willowbrook

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Kept me guessing

There were many times that I was questioning what was reality.
It’s an interesting and riveting read and gives insight into what happens when state institutions are under resourced.

2 people found this helpful

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Not recommended

It was work to finish this book. The first half was repetitiously painful to listen to. I was about to give up when the story picked up with the murder investigation. This story had a lot of promise but failed in my estimation.

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Long winded

Enjoyed most of this book, but felt like things were unnecessarily repeated and the book dragged on towards the end.

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great Historical Fiction with twists and turns

Interesting read. well acted and twists you don't see coming. I picked this book because I grew up on SI and heard of the horrors. It is brutal to listen but well worth your time

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Sad, story

I read this book because of a book club I am in. I did not appreciate the vulgar language and poorly written writing. The book was sad and disgusting.

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Very intense book.

Enjoyed this book from beginning to end. A sad story with a very good ending.

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Touching

The story was really well written. Could not put it down. Even read it again.

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Well written and insightful

This story kept me coming back to hear more. Although it was disturbing at times knowing that the book was pulled from facts, I enjoyed the book.

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This book sucked so bad!!!!!!’

This book had to be the worst book I have ever listened to!! I’m just glad it was audio rather than paperback or I would have quit after chapter three! FYI don’t bore yourself w/this book!

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Kept me guessing

I was hooked to this story and love psychological thriller. It kept me guessing until the very end. I enjoyed it!

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  • L
  • 11-16-22

Like a horror movie, but based in reality!

A gripping tale, made all the more devastating by the knowledge that this place actually existed! The narration was engaging & the story keeps you on the edge of your seat. I loved that the author combined fact & fiction. You’ll be left researching the real Willowbrook & some of the horrors mentioned throughout the book, for weeks after listening to it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-25-22

Not the best

I kept going but it wasn’t the best read. Persisting felt a bit painful. Detailed and very repetitive descriptions in the beginning and an almost ‘and they all lived unbelievably happily ever after conclusion’.
I wasn’t the hugest fan of the narrator either but that part could just be personal preference.

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  • Kate
  • 09-15-22

Predictable

Okay but predictable with a soppy, feel-good ending.
I’ve read 4 others by EMW and enjoyed them all but this one didn’t keep me engaged in the same way. Hoping her next is better.