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Fiction featuring Care Experience

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The Lost Girls of Willowbrook

Ellen Marie Wiseman (5)


The now infamous Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, New York is the venue for The Lost Girls of Willowbrook (2022). Wiseman tells the story of Willowbrook by having 16-year-old Sage Winters head there in December 1971 in search of her twin sister who has been reported missing. Once Sage arrives, everyone thinks she is Rosemary, and so Sage experiences what life at Willowbrook would have been like for Rosemary—the regular doses of sedatives given out to everyone on her ward; the isolation cell or ‘pit’ used as punishment; the ward full of girls and young women rocking all day; the violence of inmates towards themselves, the staff, and each other; and the violence of staff toward inmates. She also learns about the experiments that had been conducted there, children “intentionally given hepatitis in an attempt to track the development of the viral infection” between 1956 and 1970.

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