by Kayla Joy
Genres: 20th Century, Historical Fiction
Published on April 15, 2021
Pages: 256
Format: eARC Source: From author/publisher

Annaleise Winston can never seem to fit in with the Society Girls, the strict rules that govern them, or their selfish indulgence during the Great Depression. Behind closed doors, her publicly perfect new fiance, Frank Alexander, is violent and dismissive, but without his financial security, Annaleise and her mother will be on the streets with not a penny to their name.
When Annaleise finally has enough, she runs away and accidentally becomes stranded in a Hooverville, a lawless homeless encampment in Central Park, where she must keep her identity a secret if she wants to stay alive. But a kind shoe shiner named Thomas Kelley may get in the way of everything she thought she ever wanted. As their love for each other grows, the Great Depression worsens, and Frank will pay any price to bring back his bride.

I enjoyed this historical fiction novel about a society woman who runs away from an abusive relationship and ends up in a homeless encampment during the Great Depression. I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction set in this era. This book did a good job of letting the reader understand what it was like to live in the Hoovervilles.

I appreciated the exploration of class differences. Annaleise’s family and friends assume that people need to live in camps because they are lazy and don’t want to work. She finds that most people there are either working at a poorly paying jobs (including working for the same people who consider them lazy) or are actively seeking any work they can find. That brings to mind many of the same arguments that people use today about people who are unemployed or underemployed.

The experience turns Annaleise into a crusader who tries to bring awareness to the inequity around her. The futileness of this can be frustrating to read, as can the descriptions of the abuse that she endures at the hands of her fiance, Frank. There is both physical abuse and extreme gaslighting. Her mother also knows about the abuse but sides with Frank because he holds their financial future in his very violent hands. It is maddening and made me sympathize with her desire to escape by any means necessary.

Hooverville Author

Kayla Joy is an author and artist living in the Pacific Northwest with her family and her many animals. At 20, she has already self published two books: Morbid Tales from Behind the Mirror (available on Amazon now) and Hooverville. You can follow her journey at kaylajoybooks.com

Book tour through Rachel’s Random Resources