Hurt and fear, are not things we want children to experience. We don't expect healthy children to be test subjects in medical experiments that can physically harm them for life. Kim Van Alkemade's ORPHAN 8, historical novel, is based on New York City's Home for Hebrew Infants and the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, where in the mid-1900's into the 1920's children were used as test subjects for a number of medically questionable studies. Radiation exposure left some children bald for life and probably gave them serious physical side effects that may have caused other issues in later life.
The author's Great-Grandmother worked at the Asylum and raised (or at least saw) her two sons while she was employed at the facility. Van Alkemade was fascinated by the stories. When looking through records of the Home she found reference to buying wigs for children who'd had x-rays, and thus it became the basis for her novel.
The novel is fascinating for it's writing and the journey the reader takes with Rachel, the main character from terrified child to adult. From little Rachel at home to a scared child in an overwhelming institutional environment, to an adult suddenly faced with the woman who experimented upon her body.
Now the tables have turned and Rachel is the medical professional. She has the opportunity as the nurse assigned to a case to see the physician who scarred her for life - what will Rachel do to the elderly woman now in her care? The ethics at play are almost unbearable - the psychological nuance between the two women, one elderly, quite ill and unrepentant, the other still emotionally fragile from her childhood.
It's a book that is as intriguing as it is readable. Well written and fascinating, it draws the reader into the shadows of Rachel's thirst for revenge and her opportunity for forgiveness. How she chooses, and what she chooses make for a captivating novel. I was pleased to review this novel thanks to Harper Collins for the free book!Go to the author's website for more historical information and her bookstore appearances....