THE HIDDEN LIFE OF CECILY LARSON - Ellen Baker
United States - 1924 to 2019
It's 1924 and four-year-old Cecily has been left at an orphanage by her distraught mother, who promises to come back for her as soon as she can. Cecily believes her, and over the next few years wonders when her mother will return, but she never does. At age seven the orphanage sells her to a traveling circus where she learns to ride horses bareback, and where her trainer, Isabelle seems to be the only family Cecily will have. As she ages, Cecily becomes settled into the circus life, but yearns for something more. When she and a young roustabout named Lucky become close, Cecily has the first inklings of what it is to love someone. But the love between them cannot survive, and Cecily's life is changed again, and not for the better.
In 2015, and at age ninety-four, Cecily is living a quiet life in Minnesota. A widow, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, she is well thought of in her town for all of her charitable works. But after a fall, Cecily fractures her hip and finds herself hospitalized, with her daughter and granddaughter concerned about her future. When her grandson has a genealogical assignment at school, he wants to submit his family's DNA samples as part of the project. Without telling Cecily what it's for, her granddaughter obtains a saliva sample, and submits the entire family's samples to Ancestry. The results are not at all what anyone expected.
THE HIDDEN LIFE OF CECILY LARSON is a broad-reaching saga of one woman's ability to survive, and how her decisions in life affect several generations, and several families over the years. The use of DNA in genealogical research can unearth both the good and the bad in family histories. This is a remarkable, albeit fictional, account of what could happen.