Janet Benton, Author

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Janet Benton began writing early and has worked hard to give books a central place in her life. Her debut novel, LILLI DE JONG, is the diary of an unwed Quaker mother in 1883 Philadelphia who decides to try to keep her baby. It was one of LIBRARY JOURNAL's and NPR's Best Books 2017 and a semifinalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards and has received many additional honors.


Debut novel LILLI DE JONG

About the Book

  • A young Quaker woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.
  • Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family's home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. "So little is permissible for a woman," writes Lilli, "yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood."