The onset of a sudden and serious illness and my subsequent disability gave me the opportunity to tell the story of a woman who had been sitting in the back of my mind for 36 years. It started with the simple notion of telling a story-the idea for a (historical fiction) novel came later. The crux of the story is that people who were developmentally delayed in any way, or who had seizures, or who were orphaned, or were “feebleminded” were put in institutions. The woman I knew had been institutionalized for over 40 years-and still, she scored a 100 on her IQ test.
As I thought about my heroine and did background research, I knew the story of her life represented a reality that was all too true for tens of thousands of Americans from approximately 1900-1960’s. It has become a mission to tell the story in a way that would allow me to reach a large audience of people who would not normally read about someone being inappropriately confined to an institution.