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The Crittenton Girls

Joanne Simon Tailele

May 2021 9781736188163


Mary Alice carried a secret for a half-century, but when her sixteen-year old granddaughter Bethany confesses she is pregnant, Mary Alice decides it’s time to reveal that she gave away a child when she was the same age. With Bethany’s help, she finds her missing daughter, but the unexpected reunion, comes with life-changing decisions for Mary Alice. She may risk losing the daughter she raised in order to save the life of the one she gave away.

The Crittenton Girls is women’s fiction and delves into the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. As a mother of three daughters, our relationships have not always been sugar and spice. Loving does not come easily when there is so much baggage. Mother-daughter stories have become my brand. If you liked The Home of Unwanted Girls by Joanne Goodman and Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, you will love The Crittenton Girls.


November 3, 2017

 Mary Alice had been on this earth for seventy-five years. For fifty-nine of them, she loved one man. For fifty-seven of them, she nurtured three children. She wasn't a stranger to tears, and being a mother fostered an ability to recognize the difference between crocodile tears and real pain, true broken hearts and wild teenage hormones. Sometimes a hug and a whispered reassurance fixed things. Occasionally a joke worked. Or cookies. Maternal instinct. Practice. Tears were something that she could fix. Until today.

Bethany sat hunched over Mary Alice’s kitchen table, arms wrapped around her head, her muffled sobs flitting through her arms. 'Oh Gram' were the only words she'd muttered twenty minutes before dissolving into tears. Now Mary Alice stood behind her, arms limp and useless save for a box of tissues in one hand and a cookie tin in the other. She'd tried hugs, sweets, holding the girl and rocking her. Bethany hadn't spoken except to call her name, but the way she broke down was different. Mary Alice tried to find a cure to a hurt that she couldn't find . . . and failed. If only she weren't so out of practice, she could tease the root of the problem from her. If she figured out what caused the tears, she could stop them.

Mary Alice set the tissues and the tin on the table next to Bethany's shaking arms. Whatever was going on was serious. Not like that time when Bethany got excluded from a party. Or the time when her best friend talked behind her back. This was something worse. Despair. An accident . . . death?

No, please, not again.

Mary Alice hands hovered over Bethany's hair, then she retracted them.

"Bethany." Mary Alice took a breath. The air around her stilled. "Talk to Grandma, sweetie. Did somebody get hurt . . . or someone hurt you?"She tried to bat away the images of abused young girls she had recently seen on the news. Oh God, not that either.

Bethany didn't raise her head. Instead, she let out a long, shrill wail and curled in on herself. Mary Alice's stomach squeezed like a fist.

Words formed almost by their own volition. "I'm calling your Mom."

"Wait!" Bethany wailed. She sprang from her seat.

Before Mary Alice could reach the phone, Bethany's trembling arms were around her waist. With a suspended breath, Mary Alice turned to her granddaughter's red blotchy face. Bethany opened her mouth, and Mary Alice clenched her gut, hoping she was strong enough to hear whatever was going to come out of them.

"Gram . . . I'm . . . I'm pregnant!"