The Stovepipe is a heartrending and heartwarming story of a four-year-old girl, who, along with three sisters and a brother, is taken by force from her family farm and placed in the foster care system. As time passes, they are often separated and later reunited as they are shuffled from one foster home to another. The four girls spend their most formative years on a tobacco farm where they live in abject fear of their foster parents who show them no affection, force them to work as common farm laborers, keep them locked in unheated attic bedrooms, do not let them partake in the family meals, and deny them access to the inside sanitary facilities. They are constantly threatened that they will be separated again if they misbehave. Their strong sisterly bonds and the pranks they play to get even with their foster parents help the girls to keep their will and spirits from breaking and to endure the years of willful neglect and unspeakable abuse.
When I was contacted to review The Stovepipe, I was really excited. It’s been a while since I have done a book review on the blog and it just so happens, I had made a commitment to myself to do more reading in 2014!
From the very first paragraph, I was captivated. My stomach knotted immediately empathizing with the fear that Bonnie felt at becoming a foster child. Throughout the book, I smiled as her and her sisters made the best of a very bad situation, but also felt intense anger towards the adults (and older children!) who not only did not protect her, but who also purposefully abused her. Sadly, I don’t think her story is isolated to her generation, but rather something that still permeates a very broken system. I finished the booking feeling like Bonnie was an old friend… someone who I am very proud of for not only surviving a childhood of abuse, but who rose above and blessed us all by sharing her story in this book. I highly recommend this book to any one with an interest in the foster care system (past or present) or with a love for children.
About The Author
After immigrating to the United States in 1964, Bonnie Virag enrolled into the prestigious Academy Nvart School of Dressmaking and Designing to pursue her life-long dream of being a fashion designer. After graduating in May 1968, she went on to open her own home-based business. Several years later she entered the field of home decorating to design and fabricate customized window treatments. Failed surgery on an injured hand caused the closing of her business. It was then, while using an old typewriter for physical therapy, she decided to write her memoir. She is retired now and lives happily with her husband in Michigan. Bonnie can be found here on the web.
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