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Inspired by heartrending real events, a mother fights to find her son and a child battles for survival in this riveting debut novel. For readers of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, The Letter by Kathryn Hughes, and Remember Me by Lesley Pearse. A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who Inspired by heartrending real events, a mother fights to find her son and a child battles for survival in this riveting debut novel. For readers of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, The Letter by Kathryn Hughes, and Remember Me by Lesley Pearse. A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who she is. Only that she has lost something very precious. As the little boy waits in the orphanage, he hopes his mother will return. But then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia, the promise of a golden life ahead, and wonders: how will she find him in a land across the oceans? In Perth, a lonely wife takes in the orphaned child. But then she discovers the secret of his past. Should she keep quiet? Or tell the truth and risk losing the boy who has become her life?


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Inspired by heartrending real events, a mother fights to find her son and a child battles for survival in this riveting debut novel. For readers of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, The Letter by Kathryn Hughes, and Remember Me by Lesley Pearse. A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who Inspired by heartrending real events, a mother fights to find her son and a child battles for survival in this riveting debut novel. For readers of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, The Letter by Kathryn Hughes, and Remember Me by Lesley Pearse. A woman is found wandering injured in London after an air raid. She remembers nothing of who she is. Only that she has lost something very precious. As the little boy waits in the orphanage, he hopes his mother will return. But then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia, the promise of a golden life ahead, and wonders: how will she find him in a land across the oceans? In Perth, a lonely wife takes in the orphaned child. But then she discovers the secret of his past. Should she keep quiet? Or tell the truth and risk losing the boy who has become her life?

30 review for The Oceans Between Us

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    3.5 stars I love when authors draw inspiration from real life events because it really enhances a story and with this historical fiction book I actually learned a few things about British and Australian history. Granted it was an ugly side of their pasts, but by using it in the story I felt emotionally invested in the characters and couldn't put the book down. Essentially this story is a love triangle, but not in the romantic way you might be thinking. After a London air raid, a woman is left 3.5 stars I love when authors draw inspiration from real life events because it really enhances a story and with this historical fiction book I actually learned a few things about British and Australian history. Granted it was an ugly side of their pasts, but by using it in the story I felt emotionally invested in the characters and couldn't put the book down. Essentially this story is a love triangle, but not in the romantic way you might be thinking. After a London air raid, a woman is left injured and can't remember her past, let alone even her name. Unfortunately, nobody can figure out who she is either but she is determined to find out the truth. Her young son, Jack, is placed in an orphanage after authorities deem his mother must have been killed in the blast. Even though he has been told she is dead, in his heart he believes she is alive. After the war ends he is shipped off to Australia as part of a program in which that country receives child migrants from the UK. The Bindoon boys town where he is sent to live is a horrific place as the children are forced to work long hours doing manual labor and are subject to all forms of abuse. Eventually, a woman who longs to be a mother, takes in Jack even though her husband isn't exactly thrilled with the idea. The story takes place over the course of many years and follows the lives of Jack, his biological mother in England, and the woman who is raising him in Australia. Pretty much from the start you feel for poor Jack. It's also not hard to have compassion for the two mothers and the more you read you feel this uneasiness because given the situation you just know that there can't be a 100% happy outcome. And while the main characters in the story are fictional, just knowing real life families were torn apart with kids being shipped halfway around the world, it just makes this book even more heart wrenching. It really is a shameful part of history and if you know nothing about it, I highly recommend reading this book for that reason alone. I liked what the author came up with in terms of the plot but I can't say I was overly impressed with the writing. It felt short, simple, and to the point rather than very descriptive writing. I'm not saying it's bad writing, and it was certainly good enough to keep me interested in the story, but I just feel it wasn't on the same level as some of my favorite historical fiction books. I also thought the weakest part of the story was actually the last quarter or so when it teetered into melodramatic territory. I felt like a few too many plot devices were used and it hurt rather than helped the story. Even though it sounds like I'm nitpicking, I really did enjoy this book and am glad I read it. I loved reading the Author's Note and hearing what inspired her to write the book. Definitely recommend if you enjoy historical fiction. I won a free advance digital copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pauline

    The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson is a heartbreaking story about the children who were transported to Australia in their thousand after the Second World War. Molly's house is destroyed during the blitz and she is wounded and has lost her memory. Her young son Jack comes home from school and finds his mum and their house gone. He is sent to the country to a convent. Later Jack having been told that he is an orphan is transported on a ship full of children to Australia. When he arrives they The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson is a heartbreaking story about the children who were transported to Australia in their thousand after the Second World War. Molly's house is destroyed during the blitz and she is wounded and has lost her memory. Her young son Jack comes home from school and finds his mum and their house gone. He is sent to the country to a convent. Later Jack having been told that he is an orphan is transported on a ship full of children to Australia. When he arrives they are taken to a boys town where they are badly treated and forced to work long hours. Years later Molly starts to regain her memory bit by bit and is now looking to be reunited with her son. This story is shocking in the way that children were treated and the lack of support for the parents trying to find out what happened to their children. I would like to thank NetGalley and Headline for my e- copy in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a historical fiction book that is all about orphaned child that is from London being sent to Australia from a better life, but of course they did not get that better life. I have to say there is also a lot about Whites dating Blacks in the book to. I did like this book, but it did not hard my heart hard like some historical fiction. I found some parts boring. The characters where not super developed to me, and I did not care about the characters like some other historical fiction books I This is a historical fiction book that is all about orphaned child that is from London being sent to Australia from a better life, but of course they did not get that better life. I have to say there is also a lot about Whites dating Blacks in the book to. I did like this book, but it did not hard my heart hard like some historical fiction. I found some parts boring. The characters where not super developed to me, and I did not care about the characters like some other historical fiction books I have read. I do love some things this book covers, but I just wish those items was covered better. I would say overall it was just ok. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Headline) or author (Gill Thompson) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review that is my opinion of the book, and I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. (*)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

    *www.onewomansbbr.wordpress.com *www.facebook.com/onewomansbbr The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson. (2019). A woman is found after being injured in London following an air raid. She has little memory other than that she has lost something previous. A little boy is in an orphanage, hoping his mother will return for him. Then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia with the promise of a golden life ahead. He still holds hope that somehow his mother will find him. In Perth, a lonely *www.onewomansbbr.wordpress.com *www.facebook.com/onewomansbbr The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson. (2019). A woman is found after being injured in London following an air raid. She has little memory other than that she has lost something previous. A little boy is in an orphanage, hoping his mother will return for him. Then he finds himself on board a ship bound for Australia with the promise of a golden life ahead. He still holds hope that somehow his mother will find him. In Perth, a lonely wife takes in an orphan. Then she discovers the secret of his past. What should she do when she doesn't want to risk losing him? This book was truly heartbreaking. I have previously heard of the child migrant scheme but did not have any real knowledge around it so this book was my first real taste of it. The idea that authorities lied to children telling them their parents were dead to convince them to move to Australia is horrifying. Even more horrifying is the realisation that these children were promised a glorious new life and actually ended up being abused and used as slave labour. The author explains in her Author's Note that she was inspired to write this book after in 2010 heading the English prime minister apologise to a group of child migrants. The author has written a very emotive and quite moving story centred around the fictional Jack, a child migrant. In later parts of the novel a new character in Rosie is introduced, and her story is equally saddening as she is part of Australia's Stolen Generation. The book is set in two primary locations as we follow Jack's story in Australia and Molly's story in England. An extremely powerful debut fiction novel, I'd highly recommend this bittersweet book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Back in 2010, I was in the kitchen, performing some desultory domestic task and listening idly to the Radio 4 news, when an item stopped me in my tracks. The then prime minister, Gordon Brown, was apologising to a group of ex child migrants to Australia on behalf of a British government that had been allowed them to be sent there three decades before. The children have been told their parents were dead when many were in fact still alive. My first thought was *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘Back in 2010, I was in the kitchen, performing some desultory domestic task and listening idly to the Radio 4 news, when an item stopped me in my tracks. The then prime minister, Gordon Brown, was apologising to a group of ex child migrants to Australia on behalf of a British government that had been allowed them to be sent there three decades before. The children have been told their parents were dead when many were in fact still alive. My first thought was what a shocking account. My second was what a powerful story it would make.’ Gill Thompson, Author’s Note, The Oceans Between Us The first three chapters of The Oceans Between Us, the first novel from English Lecturer Gill Thompson, was longlisted for the Mslexia novel award. I can see why this book has captured the attention of this prize. It would surprise me if anyone can walk away from reading this debut from Gill Thompson without being visibly moved by the characters and their experiences. Inspired by true events, The Oceans Between Us is a tale of finding a placed to call home, connecting with your family, heartbreak, loss and never giving up. In the heart of London during the Blitz, a woman is found disorientated and injured, walking the streets aimlessly. The woman does not know her name, or where she comes from. She does have the overwhelming feeling that she has lost something dear to her. At the same time, a little boy is taken to an orphanage outside of London. He has the hope that his mother will come back for him and he is certain that she is still alive, despite the sisters of the orphanage warning him that she perished in the war. But this little boy’s course in life is about to change, thanks to a new policy adopted by the British and Australian governments. The boy, known as Jack, boards a ship and sets sail for the land of oranges and sunshine – Australia. He is excited about this new life, but at the same time he worries, wondering how his mother will ever reach him if she comes looking for him. When Jack sets foot on Australian soil he is taken to a facility known as Bindoon. Every day at Bindoon is a fight for survival, but Jack is rescued from Bindoon by a childless couple, the Sullivans. Jack’s life is improved, but a terrible secret works its way around their lives, reminding all involved of sacrifice, hope and survival. As an Australian, I was visibly upset, remorseful and angry about the content in this book. Although the situation laid out on the pages of The Oceans Between Us was certainly not new to me, I have read a couple of books on the true events inspired by this tale. I have also watched a number of film and television dramas on this chapter in history, but it doesn’t lessen the blow of the experiences in any way. Transporting orphans or improvised children from Britain to Australia, to improve the breeding stock of Australia, the new lucky country, was utterly appalling. These policy makers had next to no concern for the welfare of these children, their families left behind and the long lasting impact of such a move on a young child. They thought their heart was in the right place, giving these children a shot at a new life of opportunity. However, most children endured the pain of displacement, awful abuse, bullying and mistreatment. This is portrayed extremely well by Gill Thompson, which I suspect will be down to the extent of the research she conducted to compile her first novel. Jack, the young orphan of this tale, and Molly his mother, who is left behind in London, are both superbly presented figureheads for the experiences of many during this time. Thompson does well with this aspect of her novel, balancing the authenticity of their experiences, with moments of darkness and light. Jack is lucky to be rescued in a sense from a horrific life in Bindoon, but the couple that eventually adopts him does do him damage in their own way. Thompson accurately captures these experiences and feelings within the unfolding pages of The Oceans Between Us. As a West Australian, it was heartening to see much of the novel set in my neck of the woods. I am very familiar with Fremantle, the port where Jack’s ship docks. I know about Bindoon and I’ve visited Geraldton, which is mentioned as the hub for the female orphans to be taken once they arrived on West Australian soil. I also appreciated many of the local area references that were included as Jack grew up in the care of the Sullivans. These places included Kings Park, the University of Western Australia and even Lake Monger. Thompson is also respectful of the traditions, folklore and local indigenous people of Western Australia. There is an excellent side thread involving a local indigenous girl, who is the subjected to the truly heartbreaking White Australia policy. This particular character is also just one victim, among so many of the Stolen Generation. Linked to these themes of Australian racial prejudice, Thompson tackles inequality in the post World War II era. Jack’s mother Molly must overcome the sneers and pure dislike of her marriage to a Jamaican man. Thompson handles this aspect with a strong level of insight and sensitivity. The author also explores social attitudes in relation to mixed race marriages and relationships, both in British and Australian society. The employ of such authentic and compelling characters helps to move this aspect of the narrative along. The Oceans Between Us truly pulls at your heartstrings. With themes of salvation, longing, self preservation, inequality, betrayal, forbidden love, friendship, loyalty, the search for justice and a place to call home, along with human endurance, this novel will touch your soul. Thompson’s characters are not to be forgotten, along with their experiences. I plunged into the depths of this story and I came out a changed person. And although Jack, Molly, Sam, Rosie and the accompanying list of protagonists are fictional, I will forever keep these characters in my thoughts. I cannot recommend The Oceans Between Us enough. I am really looking forward to future writing from Gill Thompson. *Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    This is a story that is heart wrenching, it pulled at my heart so much, it will push a few buttons for some people as we start in London during the blitz and end up in Perth Western Australia, following the journey of a young boy Jack Malloy. Molly Malloy and her son Jack live in Croydon London, it is World War 2 and they have already lost a husband and father, when a bomb explodes during the day leaving Jack to come home from school to no house and a mother who is missing. Jack is sent to an This is a story that is heart wrenching, it pulled at my heart so much, it will push a few buttons for some people as we start in London during the blitz and end up in Perth Western Australia, following the journey of a young boy Jack Malloy. Molly Malloy and her son Jack live in Croydon London, it is World War 2 and they have already lost a husband and father, when a bomb explodes during the day leaving Jack to come home from school to no house and a mother who is missing. Jack is sent to an orphanage Melchet and cared for by the nuns. Jack is always hopeful that his beautiful mother will come for him, but years pass and they convince Jack that she is gone, and an opportunity to travel to Australia, live on farm ride horses and eat oranges all of the time finds him on a ship to Australia and sent to Boys Town where life is nothing like he was promised. Jack is lucky enough to be taken in by a loving family in Perth the Sullivan family, where he grows to be a young man and lawyer, never forgetting his mother. He becomes a lawyer to search for answers and get some closure on what happened The Sullivan family also take in an Aboriginal girl Rosie as a housemaid and Jack and Rosie form a forbidden friendship. Back in England Jack’s mother Molly is found wandering with no memory of who she is always feeling like she has lost something, years later slowly Molly’s memory returns and she wants desperately to find her son Jack and with her new husband Reggie they start the search. This was a compelling story that was hard to put down, what happened to these children should never have happened, the pain and hurt they and their families went through, was heartbreaking, MS Thompson also deals with the stolen generation, there were lots of emotions that I felt reading this one, fabulously written and a debut.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Thanks to NetGalley and Gill Thompson for my copy of his book: The Oceans Between Us. The book tells the story of Jack, a young English boy and his mum Molly. Jack is five when during the Blitz his mother Molly's is presumed dead after a bomb explodes in their backyard and he is sent to an orphanage. Molly was injured from the bomb blast, she spends years in hospital and has no idea who she is or anything about her life. Jack is taken to an orphanage and he's told that his mum has died England had Thanks to NetGalley and Gill Thompson for my copy of his book: The Oceans Between Us. The book tells the story of Jack, a young English boy and his mum Molly. Jack is five when during the Blitz his mother Molly's is presumed dead after a bomb explodes in their backyard and he is sent to an orphanage. Molly was injured from the bomb blast, she spends years in hospital and has no idea who she is or anything about her life. Jack is taken to an orphanage and he's told that his mum has died England had so many orphanages that are full and Australia offered to give home's to children who have lost their parents during the war and it was part of a migration scheme to increase the population of Australia. Jack is sent to Australia by boat, the children are told stories about how wonderful his life would be in Australia, sunshine, oranges and wide open spaces. The horrible fact was many of these children are abused, siblings are often separated and Jack was sent to Bindoon. Bindoon is in Western Australia, it's a horrible place, boys are expected to work hard, conditions are primitive and boys are abused and some in the worst possible way. Jack is lucky, he catches the attention of Kathleen she's married to John and he works for a department that organized the migration scheme. They decide to adopt Jack as they don't have children of their own and Kathleen is desperate to be a mother. Molly spends years in hospital, she has lost her memory and has no idea who she is or where she lived or if she's married or a mother. Years go by, Margaret as she is now called, is given all kinds of treatment and slowly she recovers enough that she can leave hospital, is employed to work at the hospital where she was once a patient and lives in a nearby boarding house. As time goes on, she starts working in a dress shop and little pieces of memory return, she remembers her name, her real name is Molly, she had a son called Jack and what happened to Jack? It's a sad story based on true events so many children were sent to Australia after WW II, many were orphans, others their parents had put them into care for only a short period of time while they tried to find work or a place to live, they returned to collect them and to find out that their children had also been sent to Australia. It's very hard to believe that children were treated this way in Australia, but it's true and Gill Thompson's book "The Oceans Between Us" explains the sad details of the children's migration scheme in Australia and he writes a interesting story about this shocking time in Australia's history. I enjoyed the book but I did find it a little slow in places for me and I gave it three stars. I have shared my review on Goodreads, NetGalley, Twitter, Australian Amazon, Kobo and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sherri Thacker

    This heartbreaking book grabbed me from the very first page. Lots of emotions came out when reading this book and I enjoyed it so much! Historical fiction lovers will love this book. A great debut by this author!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Angela Smith

    A story of mother and son separated by war and geography. Although Jack was only 5 when the bomb fell that would change his and his mother's life forever, he refused to give up hope that she was still alive. Molly suffered from amnesia after a bomb struck her and her little boy Jack's home. For years she knew that she was missing something important. By the time her memory came back Jack had already been shipped out to Australia with thousands of other war "orphans " and her circumstances and A story of mother and son separated by war and geography. Although Jack was only 5 when the bomb fell that would change his and his mother's life forever, he refused to give up hope that she was still alive. Molly suffered from amnesia after a bomb struck her and her little boy Jack's home. For years she knew that she was missing something important. By the time her memory came back Jack had already been shipped out to Australia with thousands of other war "orphans " and her circumstances and walls of bureaucracy hindered her efforts to find her lost son. It's described as a heartbreaking story and it certainly made me cry. Although Jack and Molly's story are fictional they are based on a shameful period of Britain's and Australian history where we shipped children to Australia like discarded rubbish and let them be treated however the Australian government saw fit. Families were ripped apart. This debut novel was an excellent and emotional read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Oh, this book is heartbreaking. But, SO amazingly done. Theres an air raid, during the blitz, that leaves Molly injured and with no memoryonly a feeling of something missing. Meanwhile, in an orphanage is a little boy waiting for his mother. Unfortunatelyand based on real eventsthe boy is sent to Australia after the war with many other children. I wont give away any more of the plot. This is one that you have to read and soak in. But, as a mother, I can say I was anxious for so much of this book. Oh, this book is heartbreaking. But, SO amazingly done. There’s an air raid, during the blitz, that leaves Molly injured and with no memory–only a feeling of something missing. Meanwhile, in an orphanage is a little boy waiting for his mother. Unfortunately–and based on real events–the boy is sent to Australia after the war with many other children. I won’t give away any more of the plot. This is one that you have to read and soak in. But, as a mother, I can say I was anxious for so much of this book. One of the joys of reading, for me, is when a story has the ability to bring the reader into it and you feel a part of the story–like you’re there. But that can be bittersweet in a story like this where you’re not sure of the ending and it breaks your heart a little bit each page. The fact that this story was based around events that actually happen just breaks my heart even more. Gill Thompson did an amazing job of bringing the reader into her story and enlightening the reader as to events that should be remembered. A wonderful, powerful story that I’d recommend across the board.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Trish at Between My Lines

    4.5 stars I flew through this emotional book with a lump in my heart and watery eyes. It featured Jack who was transported from the UK to Australia after WW2. I wasnt aware that this was a practice, and it seems madness as many families are temporarily displaced after a war. In Jacks case, he was incorrectly categorised as an orphan, as were so many others. We get to see the story from his point of view, and also his mother Molly who never stopped searching for him. And through the eyes of the 4.5 stars I flew through this emotional book with a lump in my heart and watery eyes. It featured Jack who was transported from the UK to Australia after WW2. I wasn’t aware that this was a practice, and it seems madness as many families are temporarily displaced after a war. In Jack’s case, he was incorrectly categorised as an orphan, as were so many others. We get to see the story from his point of view, and also his mother Molly who never stopped searching for him. And through the eyes of the family that adopted him in Australia. On top of that, it also tacked the horrific theme of Aboriginal children who were separated from their parents by government policy. And sent to work as domestic servants for white middle class families. I took many of these lovely characters to my heart, and I felt their sorrow from losing family bonds. For the harsh life ahead of them, and I cringed at just what some had to endure. But I also felt their bravery in finding justice for all children who suffered from these two awful policies. Overall it’s a sad, but very authentic feeling read. With characters that you want to hug.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Fisher

    Fascinated by this part of British/Australian history - so barbaric. Loved how the author combined the historical detail of the social norms back then and the complexities of motherhood to weave a compelling story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is a sad but beautiful story as well. Sad to read the true events that this story is modeled after but at the same time as author, Gill Thompson states as an author, there are some liberties that can be taken like giving a happy ending. I was so connected to all of the characters and the story. The main ones are Jack, who is adopted by John and Kathleen. John is really rough around the edges. Deep down I do believe in a tiny part of his heart that he did love Jack. Although, he never really This is a sad but beautiful story as well. Sad to read the true events that this story is modeled after but at the same time as author, Gill Thompson states as an author, there are some liberties that can be taken like giving a happy ending. I was so connected to all of the characters and the story. The main ones are Jack, who is adopted by John and Kathleen. John is really rough around the edges. Deep down I do believe in a tiny part of his heart that he did love Jack. Although, he never really showed it to Jack. Kathleen on the other hand was happy to have Jack as her son. This story does display as the hurdles parents and children experience when becoming a family from different walks of life. The children hold hope that their biological parents will still love them or want them; so it is hard for them to fully embrace at first the new parents. So, the real story that this one is modeled after is about human trafficking. It is sad that people hold human lives with so little regard. I do enjoy readers to check out this book as it is one not to be missed. The Oceans Between Us will touch your heart with engaging characters that will stick with you long after you have finished the book!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louise Fein

    I loved this book. It was a beautifully told, heart-wrenching tale, made all the more tragic by the fact that it was based around real life stories. The author conjured the time periods, and places impeccably, so the reader is taken from war-time London to the Australian outback and back to a smoky Croydon jazz club, seamlessly. Well drawn and immediately relatable characters. Highly recommend this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I never knew about this part of WW2--shipping children from England to Australia under the excuse of a "better life" , but in truth, for a working or slavery life. Also brings forward the second story of racial inequalities of those who are not "whites", both in England and in Australia. And the love of a mother for her child-whether by blood or not.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Another book that I listened to while walking. Cried at the end while walking, luckily no one saw me! Great read!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jill Robbertze

    This was an enjoyable, easy read that was well researched and I appreciated that it was based on some historic events from the mid 20th Century, that I was not aware of. The story kept me interested enough through to the conclusion but I didn't find it particularly exciting or memorable.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson is a heart breaking historical novel inspired by true events. The story surrounds a lost generation of children who were shipped from England to Australia at the end of World War II. The kids they thought no one wanted. Some were orphans, others were told they were orphans. The emotional impact on individuals and families was huge. Families were quite literally torn apart in Australia too as Aboriginal children were taken from their families in the hope that The Oceans Between Us by Gill Thompson is a heart breaking historical novel inspired by true events. The story surrounds a lost generation of children who were shipped from England to Australia at the end of World War II. “The kids they thought no one wanted.” Some were orphans, others were told they were orphans. The emotional impact on individuals and families was huge. Families were quite literally torn apart in Australia too as Aboriginal children were taken from their families in the hope that the indigenous people would die out. Racism was rife in England and Australia. Those who were invited over on the Windrush to help rebuild England after the war met hostility, prejudice and discrimination. Gill Thompson has portrayed a realistic account of the hatred faced by mixed race couples and their children from all quarters of society. There are some truly harrowing scenes set within a boys Roman Catholic home in Australia – cruelty at best, sexual assault at worst, and everything in between. They were innocent victims without a voice. At the heart of the novel there are the loves of mothers for their children, and vice versa. The maternal bond is strong. The need the children have for their mothers is heart breaking. The need the mothers have for their children breaks your heart too. I certainly shed some tears along the way. The Oceans Between Us was a heart wrenching read. The severed love bonds were painful and tangible. This is a book about love that never dies.

  19. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    There are many excellent, heartbreaking WWII stories involving lost children that it takes a unique story to break through and be worth truly getting behind. This is that book. Based on true events, we meet Jack, who is told that his mother died when a bomb destroys their London home. His mother Molly survives but initially has no memory of her son as she recuperates. With hopes of riding horses and playing with friends until he is reunited with his mother, who he doesnt believe is dead, Jack is There are many excellent, heartbreaking WWII stories involving lost children that it takes a unique story to break through and be worth truly getting behind. This is that book. Based on true events, we meet Jack, who is told that his mother died when a bomb destroys their London home. His mother Molly survives but initially has no memory of her son as she recuperates. With hopes of riding horses and playing with friends until he is reunited with his mother, who he doesn’t believe is dead, Jack is transported to Australia with other displaced children to a life far from what is promised. Molly also never stops searching for what she has lost. What a powerful story. All the more impressive as this is a debut novel. Thanks to NetGalley and Headline for an advance copy of this engaging book in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lpp

    More than oceans separated them Powerful book so poignantly elaborating on the plight of survivors of the war, spanning different continents. Families decimated and those that remained were relocated in such a manner that tracing loved ones was extremely difficult. Especially if they were unable to recall their names, or too young to even know. I'm not sure why I had difficulty getting "into" the book, but I restarted it several times. Not wanting to set it aside , I can honestly say it proved to More than oceans separated them Powerful book so poignantly elaborating on the plight of survivors of the war, spanning different continents. Families decimated and those that remained were relocated in such a manner that tracing loved ones was extremely difficult. Especially if they were unable to recall their names, or too young to even know. I'm not sure why I had difficulty getting "into" the book, but I restarted it several times. Not wanting to set it aside , I can honestly say it proved to be a great story. Sad many times, but it was clear how everyone had to deal with many hardships, at times at unimaginable costs. In my mind the ending just flew through too hastily striving for closure of all the situations and relationships. Will look forward to other works by Gill Thompson. Perhaps there will be another book to start a series?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Philomena Callan Cheekypee

    Im not that keen on stories from years ago but I am so glad I read this story. My heart broke for these characters. Its heart breaking that this is based on true events. This is the story of a young boy, Jack, his biological mother and another woman who raised him in Australia. This is a well told debut novel that will stay with the reader for a long time. Im looking forward to reading more from this author in the future. I’m not that keen on stories from years ago but I am so glad I read this story. My heart broke for these characters. It’s heart breaking that this is based on true events. This is the story of a young boy, Jack, his biological mother and another woman who raised him in Australia. This is a well told debut novel that will stay with the reader for a long time. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    A story of heartbreaking loss, war, separation of children from their parents and many other horrors done while saying it was for good. At least it ends with an apology for the wrongs done!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Afroqueen1904

    This book was recommended to me by a friend who like me is a bookworm. I know she loves a good book so I was really excited to read this one. I am glad I have done it and thankful that I have friends who can recommend books that I end up falling in love with. This is a heartbreaking story about a mother and son who are separated in England during the second world war. The son, a five year old, then starts a harrowing journey that takes him to Australia while the mother, who is presumed dead, This book was recommended to me by a friend who like me is a bookworm. I know she loves a good book so I was really excited to read this one. I am glad I have done it and thankful that I have friends who can recommend books that I end up falling in love with. This is a heartbreaking story about a mother and son who are separated in England during the second world war. The son, a five year old, then starts a harrowing journey that takes him to Australia while the mother, who is presumed dead, battles to regain her memory. This book touched me deeply. At times I found it hard to read, overwhelmed by the grieve and abuse that the characters had to endure. As this was based on real events I ended up researching more about the British children that were sent to Australia during the war and was appalled by the things I learned. I have now educated myself about so many things I had little or no knowledge of. Parts of British and Australian history and politics that are absolutely shameful. I now plan to continue to research and read more books about not only the British children that were sent to Australia but also about Aboriginal Australians and the policies that were put in place to exterminate them. This is a moving and educational book. Its story will stay with me for a long time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Gut-wrenching, heartache story of children who survived WW 2 landing in orphanages in England where they were tricked into being shipped to Australia to become victims of child labor abuses between 1941 & 1962. Molly Malloy, widowed single mother and her 5 year old soon, Jack, are separated after a bomb explodes destroying their home in Croyden, England. Kathleen Sullivan's yearnings to be a mother are fulfilled when her husband, John, arranges for twelve year old Jack Malloy to escape the Gut-wrenching, heartache story of children who survived WW 2 landing in orphanages in England where they were tricked into being shipped to Australia to become victims of child labor abuses between 1941 & 1962. Molly Malloy, widowed single mother and her 5 year old soon, Jack, are separated after a bomb explodes destroying their home in Croyden, England. Kathleen Sullivan's yearnings to be a mother are fulfilled when her husband, John, arranges for twelve year old Jack Malloy to escape the abuse of Bindoon Boys' Town Australia. By age 16 Jack is now a Sullivan and opportunities for education open to him to allow him to achieve justice for his former BFF Sam who was left behind in Bindoon. Each chapter of this book is so well-written that every moment in the life of Jack and his two mothers kept me turning pages. I highly recommend this novel based on facts that include the 2019 Australian and British governments apologizing to the child migrants who survived this horror.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Richard Buxton

    The Oceans Between Us tells the story of widow Molly and her infant son Jack, separated initially by the blitz and its chaotic aftermath, but subsequently by the post-war schemes of the British and Australian governments and long-enduring closed ranks of bureaucracy. Its a harsh tale, but softly told. Gill Thompson could have chosen a far grittier more realist style to tackle what is, even now, a relatively-underexposed and shameful episode in British and Australian history. In her short, The Oceans Between Us tells the story of widow Molly and her infant son Jack, separated initially by the blitz and its chaotic aftermath, but subsequently by the post-war schemes of the British and Australian governments and long-enduring closed ranks of bureaucracy. It’s a harsh tale, but softly told. Gill Thompson could have chosen a far grittier more realist style to tackle what is, even now, a relatively-underexposed and shameful episode in British and Australian history. In her short, well-chosen and well-described scenes, she certainly doesn’t avoid the tough heart of the matter. Physical and sexual abuse, child slavery, the overt deceit that steered and often crippled lives. Yet her writing is never gratuitous or sensationalised. It’s a smooth read where, as the years stretch out, and the hoped-for resolution stretches with them, the reader is left to feel the full weight of such an unnecessary loss. Wonderful novel. Thoroughly recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    A very readable fictional telling of a dark period of British and Australian history. During and after WWII, in an attempt to both tidy away lost children during the London blitz and to increase the white population in Australia, thousands of children were shipped there with promised of a happy new life.I No effort was put into seeing if these children were really orphans, and the happy new life was a lie. They were warehoused off to child labor and abuse. The world didn't even know the truth A very readable fictional telling of a dark period of British and Australian history. During and after WWII, in an attempt to both tidy away lost children during the London blitz and to increase the white population in Australia, thousands of children were shipped there with promised of a happy new life.I No effort was put into seeing if these children were really orphans, and the happy new life was a lie. They were warehoused off to child labor and abuse. The world didn't even know the truth until about ten years ago. I received this book free from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Johnson

    A very moving story, beautifully told and easy to visualise from the descriptions. I felt so much for Jack and Molly. The books obviously very well researched and although Ive read quite a bit about this subject because of a family connection I still found it shocking in places but it also has plenty of warmth and shows the strength of the human spirit A very moving story, beautifully told and easy to visualise from the descriptions. I felt so much for Jack and Molly. The book’s obviously very well researched and although I’ve read quite a bit about this subject because of a family connection I still found it shocking in places but it also has plenty of warmth and shows the strength of the human spirit

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    A fascinating story about a terrible time in history but a bit slow paced at times.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Cried a river. What a heartbreaking story and all the more for this is true of thousands of innocent children.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Oliver

    Based on the true story of British children sent out to Australia shortly after the end of WW2, this book highlights some of the dreadful experiences these children had. Promised a life of sunshine, horse riding and oranges growing on trees, the reality was completely different. Molly, a young widow, is at home and Jack, her young son, is at school when a bomb drops in their street. Molly suffers severe memory loss and is found wandering far from her home. No one can identify her and she is Based on the true story of British children sent out to Australia shortly after the end of WW2, this book highlights some of the dreadful experiences these children had. Promised a life of sunshine, horse riding and oranges growing on trees, the reality was completely different. Molly, a young widow, is at home and Jack, her young son, is at school when a bomb drops in their street. Molly suffers severe memory loss and is found wandering far from her home. No one can identify her and she is placed into an asylum. Jack is presumed orphaned and sent to a children’s home. At the end of the war he is sent for a new life in Australia, but the harsh truths of his new home are far from the promises made in England. Molly spends years searching for something she is certain she has lost, but she can’t identify what it is she is looking for. Jack’s fortunes change for the better when he is adopted by a prominent couple, but he is never able to forget his mother. Will Molly ever remember Jack? Can they ever be reunited? A brilliant and fascinating book, based on historical fact. A must read for anyone interested in this period of history.

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