Some time back, I read (and reviewed) a novel written by author Lisa Wingate entitled Before We Were Yours. Her novel took place in the late 1930s, and was the story of children who were kidnapped by an orphanage and then sold. The story was based on fact. It was one of the best books I read that year.
Because of my connection to that book, Sold on a Monday, by Kristina McMorris, caught my attention. It too, took place in the 30s, this time during the Great Depression. The story was based on a real photo taken during the Depression that the author came across while doing some research. The photo was of two small children sitting in front of a rundown farmhouse next to a sign that read 2 Children For Sale. Off she went with an idea for a historical novel.
Reporter Ellis Reed is lucky to have a job during the hard times of the early 30s. He is the society writer for a newspaper, a job he loathes. He yearns to be an important journalist. In the course of work, he comes across a sign advertising the sale of two children. He shoots a photo, but is unable to interview anyone.
When he returns to his office, he convinces his boss that the story is important, and the editor agrees to print it along with the photo. Unfortunately, the photo — and the negative — are destroyed. What are the chances? So he does that thing that reporters are not ever supposed to do. He sets up a fake photo and writes a fake story. Bad things ensue.
In the meantime, Lily is stuck in the dead-end job of being the newspaper’s secretary, while she really wants to be a writer. Since she is a single mother of a little girl, she knows she can’t be choosy. When Ellis’ dirty deed leads come to her attention, the two of them work together to try to make things right again.
Perhaps this book would have worked better, had the author based the story on these two children in the same manner that Wingate’s story was of the kidnapped children. Instead, the children become almost an afterthought with the attention focused on the two protagonists. Unfortunately, the author’s character development and ability to move a story along made this a book I slogged through. I finished the novel, but was left feeling that the story could have been so much more.
In her Afterword, we learn that surprisingly little is known about the real photograph. There apparently is some evidence, however, that the mother who was selling the children wasn’t doing it because she was poor, but instead, just because she wanted to be childless.