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Secret Girl: A Memoir

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For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves. For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards--the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir. When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the fami For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves. For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards--the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir. When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the family's eldest daughter, finds herself newly sober at the age of thirty-eight, she finally seeks out and comes face-to-face with this secret: Anne, a younger sister who was diagnosed at birth with hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") and mental retardation, was institutionalized. Anne has never been home to visit, and Molly Jacobs has never seen her. Full of trepidation, she goes to meet her sister for the first time. As the book unfolds and the sisters grow close, Jacobs learns of the decades of life not shared and gains surprising insights about herself, including why she drank for most of her adult life. In addition, she gradually comes to understand that her parents' reasons for placing Anne in a state institution were far more complex than she'd ever imagined.


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For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves. For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards--the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir. When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the fami For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves. For one daughter, that secret would haunt her for years but ultimately compel her to take surprising risks and reap unbelievable rewards--the story of which forms the stunning narrative of this remarkable memoir. When Molly Bruce Jacobs, the family's eldest daughter, finds herself newly sober at the age of thirty-eight, she finally seeks out and comes face-to-face with this secret: Anne, a younger sister who was diagnosed at birth with hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") and mental retardation, was institutionalized. Anne has never been home to visit, and Molly Jacobs has never seen her. Full of trepidation, she goes to meet her sister for the first time. As the book unfolds and the sisters grow close, Jacobs learns of the decades of life not shared and gains surprising insights about herself, including why she drank for most of her adult life. In addition, she gradually comes to understand that her parents' reasons for placing Anne in a state institution were far more complex than she'd ever imagined.

30 review for Secret Girl: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shana Elliott

    While the writing was acceptable, the story was disjointed and lacked cohesion. While I feel sympathy for the Author and her extremely disfunctional family, this was a hard book to read...and not for all the right reasons. This seemed more like a purging of her own angst more then an memoir about her relationship with her institutionalized younger sister. Sadly, this is one of those books that make you think "If they would publish this, then I can get my book publish NO PROBLEM!". While the writing was acceptable, the story was disjointed and lacked cohesion. While I feel sympathy for the Author and her extremely disfunctional family, this was a hard book to read...and not for all the right reasons. This seemed more like a purging of her own angst more then an memoir about her relationship with her institutionalized younger sister. Sadly, this is one of those books that make you think "If they would publish this, then I can get my book publish NO PROBLEM!".

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

    A self serving and mixed up account of the author's sister Anne, who had hydrocephalus, was retarded, and was placed in an institution by her parents. Flash forwards and backwards do nothing to clarify the story of how she became aware of her sister's existence, became an alcoholic, became a lawyer, and stopped drinking after marrying, divorcing, and having two sons. After getting sober she decides to meet Anne. For the first half of the book we don't get an image of what Anne is actually like o A self serving and mixed up account of the author's sister Anne, who had hydrocephalus, was retarded, and was placed in an institution by her parents. Flash forwards and backwards do nothing to clarify the story of how she became aware of her sister's existence, became an alcoholic, became a lawyer, and stopped drinking after marrying, divorcing, and having two sons. After getting sober she decides to meet Anne. For the first half of the book we don't get an image of what Anne is actually like or how handicapped she is. Once they spend time together, Anne gets the magical retard treatment, free spirited and honest in a way that the recovering alcoholic author cannot be. She dithers about whether to bring her sister to live in her home, but by the time Anne dies of liver disease, she hasn't seen her in months and her son has died (googling revealed that he was killed by hyenas on a trip to Africa - http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id....) And so the story ends with some platitudes about love and forgiveness and how much in common the two had. The back of the book hinted at further secrets discovered when she researched her sister's life, but they were nonexistent.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Eliza

    When looking for a book to read, the entire premise of Secret Girl by Molly Bruce Jacobs seemed interesting. The concept of having a twin sister, that your parents put into a child's home because they didn't think she would live just grabbed my attention. Jacobs came across the information of her older sister, and the refusal of her parents of having a disabled daughter at home. The reality of the situation came from a home lifestyle that was unable to fit Anne, the older twin, and her life in a When looking for a book to read, the entire premise of Secret Girl by Molly Bruce Jacobs seemed interesting. The concept of having a twin sister, that your parents put into a child's home because they didn't think she would live just grabbed my attention. Jacobs came across the information of her older sister, and the refusal of her parents of having a disabled daughter at home. The reality of the situation came from a home lifestyle that was unable to fit Anne, the older twin, and her life in a mental facility. The way Jacobs wrote the story, it felt easy to understand and read. I felt like it was an interesting premise and even more interesting to read, but not my personal first choice, hence why I give it three stars. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in more personal stories, especially those with a darker side.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Livia

    Poorly edited but fascinating story. The portrait the author paints of her family is both vivid and frustrating, and I really admired her lifelong refusal to become as cold and frozen as her parents by reaching out to her sister and learning to have a relationship with her. That is something that, given her background and social pressures, takes a lot of humanity. I really wish someone had taken her prose style and given it a good scrubbing, though. There's far too much heavy-handed advice about Poorly edited but fascinating story. The portrait the author paints of her family is both vivid and frustrating, and I really admired her lifelong refusal to become as cold and frozen as her parents by reaching out to her sister and learning to have a relationship with her. That is something that, given her background and social pressures, takes a lot of humanity. I really wish someone had taken her prose style and given it a good scrubbing, though. There's far too much heavy-handed advice about how the reader is supposed to take what she's saying. It's as though she can't, for a second, let the facts speak for themselves. It reads like a rough draft with a lot of potential by an amateur writer with a good story to tell. Jacobs subtly and carefully vilifies her mother throughout the book. I saw her as a miserable, thwarted, pitiful woman, but it's understanable that Jacobs, being her daughter, would lack that perspective. However, the mother was clearly the victim of social-climbing narcissists her whole life: first her own mother, then her husband. Ah, Dice. So charming, so lovingly described by his daughter who even now that he's dead can't see him for the calculating, manipulative creep that he is. Everything he says and does revolves around his image of the perfect family, and a disabled daughter was never going to be allowed into that picture. She wasn't even going to come home once. From the moment of her birth, he gaslighted his family into believing that THEY would not be able to handle having her around. His wife was too fragile, "Brucie" was to high-strung, and so on. He calmly and reasonably gets his way by throwing his loved ones under the bus again and again, and rejects anyone who doesn't come up to his ideal of superficial perfection, all without yelling or getting angry. This book is as clear a picture of the collateral damage to family caused by selfish narcissism as any you'll find. I just wish the writing hadn't been so distracting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    I wanted this book to be great. I work with adult individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and I was hoping for an uplifting story of discovering treasure and reconciliation. Instead I found more abandonment for Anne at the end when she most needed it. I thought there were moments of revelation for Brucie, but mostly it was self absorbed and more about her alcoholism and Anne was secondary. Sure, it was a terrible tragedy that she lost her son, but she should have been there for I wanted this book to be great. I work with adult individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and I was hoping for an uplifting story of discovering treasure and reconciliation. Instead I found more abandonment for Anne at the end when she most needed it. I thought there were moments of revelation for Brucie, but mostly it was self absorbed and more about her alcoholism and Anne was secondary. Sure, it was a terrible tragedy that she lost her son, but she should have been there for Anne. Its terrible. I see this all the time where the family completely abandons the child to the agency and rarely sees them. I wanted Brucie to be Anne's champion, but she withers away into alcoholism and we are supposed to be cheering for her in her struggles while Anne lies dying on the hospital bed. I guess people that don't see it from our perspective, probably forgive her for her failings and her ineptitude. ANNE WAS DYING. And you have the nerve to say that Nora makes you uncomfortable and maybe she isn't caring for Anne the way she should. I am disgusted by Brucie. Wishing I never read this stupid book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    If I could give this any less stars, I would. This book has very little to do with the "secret girl". I can't even begin to describe how much this book bothered me. The author was completely selfish (I guess you get to be if you're the author) and, in my opinion, used the title as an "artsy-oh-this-really-ties-into-me-being-the-one-whose-life-has-been-a-secret" way. I just can't get out the frustration I feel about this book. blah. Good luck reader. If I could give this any less stars, I would. This book has very little to do with the "secret girl". I can't even begin to describe how much this book bothered me. The author was completely selfish (I guess you get to be if you're the author) and, in my opinion, used the title as an "artsy-oh-this-really-ties-into-me-being-the-one-whose-life-has-been-a-secret" way. I just can't get out the frustration I feel about this book. blah. Good luck reader.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I thought this book was about the family's secret -- a mentally incapacitated child locked in institutions from birth. Instead, it was a drivelling account of the author's life. There are some poingant moments, but then the author seems to lose touch with her point, and then ends the book so quickly it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It was hard to finish. I thought this book was about the family's secret -- a mentally incapacitated child locked in institutions from birth. Instead, it was a drivelling account of the author's life. There are some poingant moments, but then the author seems to lose touch with her point, and then ends the book so quickly it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It was hard to finish.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joselyn Edwards

    Now that I sit awhile after reading this book, thinking about it, I am a little pissed at the author. It seemed she had no problem coming in and out of her sister's life. Also, it annoyed me that there is no picture of Anne anywhere in/on the back of the book. Seemed like the sister prefered to talk more about herself than her Anne. Now that I sit awhile after reading this book, thinking about it, I am a little pissed at the author. It seemed she had no problem coming in and out of her sister's life. Also, it annoyed me that there is no picture of Anne anywhere in/on the back of the book. Seemed like the sister prefered to talk more about herself than her Anne.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I didn't like this book very much. Jacobs seems to think she has made significant changes in the life of her sister, and in her own life, but I disagree. She hasn't come far enough in personal development to write a book about her life. I didn't like this book very much. Jacobs seems to think she has made significant changes in the life of her sister, and in her own life, but I disagree. She hasn't come far enough in personal development to write a book about her life.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Very well written, a compelling book. I barely put it down from the time I started reading it. This story was a bittersweet mixture of sadness interspersed with triumph.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eden Brower

    This book is not very good. It tries to be about the awful secret her family kept and how the author tries to make up for the treatment of the "secret girl" in the family. But Brucie just talks about herself and her booze and her divorce mainly while trying and failing to draw meaningful parallels between their lives. Her sister, though damaged is innocent and free spirited and can teach Brucie so much about life. Nah. She was barely visited and passed away alone. The author is self absorbed and This book is not very good. It tries to be about the awful secret her family kept and how the author tries to make up for the treatment of the "secret girl" in the family. But Brucie just talks about herself and her booze and her divorce mainly while trying and failing to draw meaningful parallels between their lives. Her sister, though damaged is innocent and free spirited and can teach Brucie so much about life. Nah. She was barely visited and passed away alone. The author is self absorbed and spoiled. She wrote at the end of the book something horrific happened to her own son she cannot write about. So of course I googled it and my god her son was eaten by hyenas on one of those dangerous safari trips rich people go on. That IS so horrible I was wondering what became of her other son who witnessed this too. He jumped off a bridge in Florida and killed himself years later. Another horrible tragedy. I felt so bad after finding this out I think I emailed the author at 4am to tell her how bad I felt. That is all I can think about now when this book is bought up. I wish all involved had a happier ending.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rachelle

    Such a gut wrenching story... So sad that it's a true story... In today's generation we have come so far but still have issues with coming to terms with those with disabilities... But during the time in this story anyone with pretty much any type of disability was tossed aside like a piece of trash to live their lives in an institution :( Definitely puts in perspective how far our medical fields have come and helped give hope and a better perspective on life to the families that are affected by Such a gut wrenching story... So sad that it's a true story... In today's generation we have come so far but still have issues with coming to terms with those with disabilities... But during the time in this story anyone with pretty much any type of disability was tossed aside like a piece of trash to live their lives in an institution :( Definitely puts in perspective how far our medical fields have come and helped give hope and a better perspective on life to the families that are affected by such difficulties.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Secret girl seems to be more about the author as it is a memoir. It’s based on the fact that she had a sister who grew up away from home having been born with hydrocephalus. But for the most part through the book it’s all about her and her reaction to not knowing and then her reaction to knowing that she had a sister with hydrocephalus and how she felt more than about the sister with Hydrocephalus. Why call it “Secret Girl” when it not really ALL about the sister.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    The author meets the developmentally disabled sister she never knew growing up, and contrasts her sister's life in a series of institutions with her own privileged upbringing. Questions her parents' bad parenting decisions. Drinks heavily, then quits. Builds a relationship with her sister. Maybe not in that order. The author meets the developmentally disabled sister she never knew growing up, and contrasts her sister's life in a series of institutions with her own privileged upbringing. Questions her parents' bad parenting decisions. Drinks heavily, then quits. Builds a relationship with her sister. Maybe not in that order.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Beth

    2.5 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Leonard

    I met Molly at the Hydrocephalus Association conference in Baltimore back in 2006. This story is absolutely compelling and a truly amazing biography.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    /I read this for a Law class/

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Meszaros

    Secret Girl is a combined autobiography and biography of Jacobs and her sister Anne. As she and her sister become teenagers, Jacobs’ father tells them that they have another sister, Anne, who was born with water on the brain. The baby, twin to Jacob’s sister Laura, was not expected to live and was committed. While Jacobs’ was always fascinated by her sister, she could find out very little about her from her parents, nor did she actually meet Anne until she was in her late 30s. Once she has met A Secret Girl is a combined autobiography and biography of Jacobs and her sister Anne. As she and her sister become teenagers, Jacobs’ father tells them that they have another sister, Anne, who was born with water on the brain. The baby, twin to Jacob’s sister Laura, was not expected to live and was committed. While Jacobs’ was always fascinated by her sister, she could find out very little about her from her parents, nor did she actually meet Anne until she was in her late 30s. Once she has met Anne, Jacobs’ feels a very strong connection with Anne. Despite her mostly wretched upbringing in a barred hospital, Anne is still a outspoken, funny and life-loving woman. She dances spontaneously, speaks her mind (loudly), inhales McDonald’s hamburgers and loves her job doing cleaning. Surprisingly, of the whole family, Anne seems to be the happiest. Jacobs’ plots her life as an alcoholic and miserable career as a lawyer. She frequently makes excuses for her cold, domineering mother (making me only loathe her more) and intellectual father, who cared so little for Anne that they would not sign the papers to let her have vaccines or a state-sponsored trip to Disneyland. She tells of her divorce, efforts to help Anne while trying to stop drinking, the death of her father and other life-shaking events. Just when everything seems to have finally fallen into place, Jacobs’ adds her horribly wrenching epilogue. Definitely not a fun read by any stretch, but excellent and satisfying in its own way.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book was a beautifully written memoir. I would recommend it as a companion to "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" and any person who wants to know the impact of secrets, dysfunction, denial on a family. Even today, some Americans find out that they had siblings, family members they never knew they had who had been institutionalized. This was the case for Molly Bruce Jacobs. Her sister was institutionalized after birth. The author didn't know of her existence until she was thirteen, and didn't vis This book was a beautifully written memoir. I would recommend it as a companion to "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" and any person who wants to know the impact of secrets, dysfunction, denial on a family. Even today, some Americans find out that they had siblings, family members they never knew they had who had been institutionalized. This was the case for Molly Bruce Jacobs. Her sister was institutionalized after birth. The author didn't know of her existence until she was thirteen, and didn't visit her until she was in her 30s. The memoir follows her life, as the author struggles to make sense of this impossible choice. She works to develop a relationship with her sister and understand this secret's impact on her life and her alcoholism. It is an unbelievably sad and honest memoir. It tells how an adult understands and accepts their parents' actions and accepts and forgives their own actions and motivations. Molly wasn't defending her parents' actions, but by writing the memoir and developing a relationship with her sister - she was trying to make things right. As right as she could make them. Just like any of us, knowing we can't make up for the past, but trying to do the best we can with what we have.

  20. 5 out of 5

    TheSaint

    Secret Girl is ostensibly about what it is like to find out that you have a retarded sister who has been institutionalized since birth. “Brucie” (Author Molly Bruce Jacobs) learns this as a teenager, and visits her sister Anne once with their unstable mother. Then what? The remote parents here are well-to-do, (dad’s well-respected journalist) and prefer not to be bothered. So, send Brucie off to boarding school, when she enters the teenage rebelious phase. Why not? They can afford it. The reader Secret Girl is ostensibly about what it is like to find out that you have a retarded sister who has been institutionalized since birth. “Brucie” (Author Molly Bruce Jacobs) learns this as a teenager, and visits her sister Anne once with their unstable mother. Then what? The remote parents here are well-to-do, (dad’s well-respected journalist) and prefer not to be bothered. So, send Brucie off to boarding school, when she enters the teenage rebelious phase. Why not? They can afford it. The reader wants to find out about Anne’s life, and to be sure we learn of her through medical and psychological records. But this is more the story of a poor little rich girl, and her alcoholic excesses, than it is about the real horror of the secret girl. In short, If you liked A Child Called It, you might like Secret Girl.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    I heard this author interviewed about the book a few years ago on NPR and was really taken by her story. I felt misled by the title and description of this book because it was actually in large part a memior about her own recovery from her divorce and alcoholism. It seemed that these and other themes about her family were repeated over and over without a lot of new insight as the book progressed. One thing that was interesting and different from other memiors I've read was her honesty about what I heard this author interviewed about the book a few years ago on NPR and was really taken by her story. I felt misled by the title and description of this book because it was actually in large part a memior about her own recovery from her divorce and alcoholism. It seemed that these and other themes about her family were repeated over and over without a lot of new insight as the book progressed. One thing that was interesting and different from other memiors I've read was her honesty about what was historically true versus what she'd imagined had happened either because she was too young to remember or was not present for a particular event. It left me feeling at times that between her lack of memory/first-hand knowledge and lack of insight, she didn't really have enough "meat" to write a full-length memior.

  22. 5 out of 5

    SouthWestZippy

    Taken from the back of the book. " For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves." Molly is a newly sober alcoholic at the age of thirty-eight when she decided it is time to meet Anne the family secret, her younger Sister. Story is heartbreaking. I hard time reading it for many reasons. First one is the parents, they were not parents to any of their kids, especially Anne. Another one was the flash backs and the Au Taken from the back of the book. " For decades, a well-to-do Baltimore family guarded a secret they felt too ashamed to reveal, much less speak of among themselves." Molly is a newly sober alcoholic at the age of thirty-eight when she decided it is time to meet Anne the family secret, her younger Sister. Story is heartbreaking. I hard time reading it for many reasons. First one is the parents, they were not parents to any of their kids, especially Anne. Another one was the flash backs and the Authors lack of ability to stick with a subject. Found it hard to follow and annoying. Last reason is her lack of ability to see the whole picture and bring it to a comprehensive conclusion on how and why things happen in her and her families lives. The story could has much more of a impact it if would have someone come along gave it a honest edit and some focus.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Layton

    I think Molly Bruce Jacobs probably thought she was being compelling and "deep" when penning this novel, but I found it trite, masturbatory, dull, and anticlimactic. In fact, I thought the most riveting part was when the author mentioned (towards the very end) that her 11-year-old son had died, but that THE MANNER OF HIS DEATH WAS TOO AWFUL TO DESCRIBE. Okay Molly....if you say that, it's going to piss off your reader and she's going to play detective. So anyway...I googled her family and found I think Molly Bruce Jacobs probably thought she was being compelling and "deep" when penning this novel, but I found it trite, masturbatory, dull, and anticlimactic. In fact, I thought the most riveting part was when the author mentioned (towards the very end) that her 11-year-old son had died, but that THE MANNER OF HIS DEATH WAS TOO AWFUL TO DESCRIBE. Okay Molly....if you say that, it's going to piss off your reader and she's going to play detective. So anyway...I googled her family and found out that her son Garrit was eaten by hyenas on a safari in Botswana. I am not joking. Look it up.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Eirene

    There were things I liked about this book--the story, the message--and things I didn't like about the book. What I didn't like was how parts of the book seemed to be the author's imaginings, instead of the truth based on research and interviews. I don't want to read an "imagining" of what happened to her sister, I want to read what really happened. I also felt like the author was just as damaged by the end of the book as she was on page one. In that aspect it was a bit sad. But the good parts of There were things I liked about this book--the story, the message--and things I didn't like about the book. What I didn't like was how parts of the book seemed to be the author's imaginings, instead of the truth based on research and interviews. I don't want to read an "imagining" of what happened to her sister, I want to read what really happened. I also felt like the author was just as damaged by the end of the book as she was on page one. In that aspect it was a bit sad. But the good parts of the book outweighed the rest. The story of her blossoming relationship with the sister that had been "hidden" most of her life was interesting (and tragic) to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sara Brown

    "I doubt my mother had anything more than the vaguest notion of how taxing children could be. In any case[...] she must have collapsed into feelings of regret and self-pity... I can't really blame my mother for that. In her circumstances, I'd have been tempted to do the same." This is how the author, on page 71 of this memoir, justifies her mother tossing her across the room as an infant and abandoning a child to a home for mentally retarded children when one of her twins doesn't turn out the way "I doubt my mother had anything more than the vaguest notion of how taxing children could be. In any case[...] she must have collapsed into feelings of regret and self-pity... I can't really blame my mother for that. In her circumstances, I'd have been tempted to do the same." This is how the author, on page 71 of this memoir, justifies her mother tossing her across the room as an infant and abandoning a child to a home for mentally retarded children when one of her twins doesn't turn out the way she'd planned. I am too disgusted by this self-serving, spoiled-little-rich-girl drivel to continue reading this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    I selected this book to read for one of my graduate projects. It is the story of a family who lived their lives apart from their daughter with hydrocephaly. Their daughter was put into residential care, and her sisters spent their childhood not knowing she even existed. The book, written by the oldest sister, documents the effect this secret had on her life, and the process of letting herself get to know her secret sister. It was heartbreaking and yet all made perfect sense in the context of the I selected this book to read for one of my graduate projects. It is the story of a family who lived their lives apart from their daughter with hydrocephaly. Their daughter was put into residential care, and her sisters spent their childhood not knowing she even existed. The book, written by the oldest sister, documents the effect this secret had on her life, and the process of letting herself get to know her secret sister. It was heartbreaking and yet all made perfect sense in the context of the family and the time. Not that it made it any better.

  27. 5 out of 5

    David Ward

    Secret Girl: A Memoir by Molly Bruce Jacobs (St. Martin's Press 2006)(Biography). The author was the eldest daughter in a family of several children. She had a hydrocephallic younger sister who was also mentally retarded who had been surrendered for adoption/institutionalized by their parents. At 38 years of age, the newly sober author sought out the sister she had never met. This is a book about how guilty she felt about the whole mess, about how and why she sought forgiveness from the sister, Secret Girl: A Memoir by Molly Bruce Jacobs (St. Martin's Press 2006)(Biography). The author was the eldest daughter in a family of several children. She had a hydrocephallic younger sister who was also mentally retarded who had been surrendered for adoption/institutionalized by their parents. At 38 years of age, the newly sober author sought out the sister she had never met. This is a book about how guilty she felt about the whole mess, about how and why she sought forgiveness from the sister, and about how she set out to make amends. My rating: 7/10, finished 2008.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Judkins

    I enjoyed this enough to keep reading but really wanted to hear more about Anne and less about Molly - became tedious after a while, and disjointed. Very sad the way our society treats people with disabilities, especially back in the 50s and 60s this practice was not uncommon. My aunt was also born retarded in the 1950s, whisked away and institutionalized. I heard about her for the first time as a teenager, and have never met her. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten all about her until I saw th I enjoyed this enough to keep reading but really wanted to hear more about Anne and less about Molly - became tedious after a while, and disjointed. Very sad the way our society treats people with disabilities, especially back in the 50s and 60s this practice was not uncommon. My aunt was also born retarded in the 1950s, whisked away and institutionalized. I heard about her for the first time as a teenager, and have never met her. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten all about her until I saw this book. So very sad.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    This book chronicles the author's discovery, and later in her life, subsequent visits with her mentally retarded sister. The girls' parents had had Anne, the author's sister, institutionalized from the time she was born. Anne was rarely visited by their parents. This book is a testament to how a family's dysfunctions can become very detrimental all members of the family in various ways. Don't overlook reading the Epilogue. It really knocked me out. This was a very well-written memoir. This book chronicles the author's discovery, and later in her life, subsequent visits with her mentally retarded sister. The girls' parents had had Anne, the author's sister, institutionalized from the time she was born. Anne was rarely visited by their parents. This book is a testament to how a family's dysfunctions can become very detrimental all members of the family in various ways. Don't overlook reading the Epilogue. It really knocked me out. This was a very well-written memoir.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I thought the author talked way more about herself then her sister. I wanted to hear more about Anne. The first half of the book is Brucie talking about how messed up her life is. Her parents, especially her mother, are just horrid people. I will never understand how a parent can turn their backs on their own child. The ending of this book really struck me. I was so sad to read what happened. Also I didn't see the whole growing up connections between Anne and Brucie that Brucie talked about. I thought the author talked way more about herself then her sister. I wanted to hear more about Anne. The first half of the book is Brucie talking about how messed up her life is. Her parents, especially her mother, are just horrid people. I will never understand how a parent can turn their backs on their own child. The ending of this book really struck me. I was so sad to read what happened. Also I didn't see the whole growing up connections between Anne and Brucie that Brucie talked about.

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