Monday, February 13, 2012

Empty Arms by Erika Liodice

Empty Arms: a novel

About the Book:

Catharine Chase’s entire life is built on a secret. In 1972, at the tender age of sixteen, she got pregnant. An embarrassment to her parents, Catharine was exiled to a maternity home to carry out her pregnancy far away from the watchful eyes of their tight-knit community. What they didn’t tell her is that she wouldn’t be allowed to keep her baby.

With her daughter’s screams still echoing in her ears, the medical staff told Catharine she’d move on with her life and have more children, they promised she’d forget. But they were wrong. Catharine never forgot Emily. And when she and her husband, Paul, learn that they can’t have children, she risks her job, her marriage, and her family’s reputation in a desperate attempt to find the daughter she never wanted to give away and reclaim her only chance to be a mother.

About the Author:

Image of Erika Liodice

Erika Liodice is an award-winning blogger and founder of the inspirational blog, Beyond the Gray, where she shares her journey to publication while encouraging readers to reach for their own dreams. She is a book reviewer at Reader Unboxed and a contributor to Writer Unboxed, The Savvy Explorer, and Lehigh Valley InSite. Empty Arms is her first novel.
You can visit her at or follow her on Twitter: @erikaliodice.

Guest Post from the Author

Empty Arms: The Story Behind the Story
By Erika Liodice

People are always asking me how I came up with the idea for my debut novel, Empty Arms. Believe it or not, it was served to me on a platter. Literally. Four years ago, I was at my Nana's house enjoying one of her delicious home-cooked meals. She's a natural-born storyteller, so believe me when I say that dinner with her is never boring. Quite the opposite, in fact. Usually she has me laughing so hard that I'm crying and trying not to pee my pants. But that fateful night, her story brought me to tears for a different reason.  

Earlier that day, Nana had been visiting with the daughter of a late friend. During their time together, the woman retrieved a picture from her wallet. "Who are these people?" Nana asked, studying the family in the photograph. "That's my daughter and her family," the woman revealed. Nana was speechless. She'd known this woman since the day she was born and she knew that she'd never had any children. That's when the truth came tumbling out: the woman had gotten pregnant when she was sixteen years old, and in effort to protect her family's good name, she was sent to live at a maternity home under the guise of studying out of state. She carried out her pregnancy in secrecy and when she gave birth to a baby girl, she was given no other choice than to place her for adoption. From that day forward, she was forbidden from seeing her daughter ever again. Everyone assured her that she would eventually forget about the baby and grow up and have more children. But she never forgot her daughter, and it wasn't until years later, after she got married, that she discovered the terrible truth: she was infertile and would never have more children. Her one and only chance at biological motherhood was long gone, and she was devastated.

That story stayed with me for weeks after our dinner. Curious about maternity homes and forced adoptions, I started doing some research and I soon discovered that Nana's friend wasn't alone. To my surprise, over 4 million unwed mothers gave birth in the years between the 1940s and 1970s and many were coerced into adoption too.
The numbers stunned me, and I couldn't help but wonder how an experience like that affects a young girl. So I started digging up testimonials, memoirs, and blogs; I joined adoption groups, and conducted interviews with people from every side of the adoption triangle – birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees – and even a missing person’s investigator. I learned that many of these "birth mothers" didn't go on to lead happy, carefree lives as implied but rather dealt with a staggering array of consequences: guilt, shame, depression, addiction, abusive relationships, post-traumatic stress disorder, and in some cases, suicide. What's more, many of these women are still silently suffering all around us – they’re our neighbors, our colleagues, our children’s teachers, members of our book clubs, our friends. And when you factor the birth fathers, the adoptees, and the birth siblings and relatives into the equation, the number of people affected by these long-forgotten scandals is countless.

Writing Empty Arms was important to me because I wanted to shed new light on a deeply painful, oft-overlooked topic that has shaped an entire generation. My hope is that it can somehow help those fragmented families make peace with the past and, if they desire, find their way back to each other.

Empty Arms is available in paperback and e-book formats at the following locations:
A Note from the Author:
I’ll be donating 10% of my book's proceeds to Save the Children, because at the heart of every adoption story is a child. Sadly, there are millions of children around the world who don’t have a family to love them, clothes to keep them warm, food to nourish their growing bodies, a safe place to sleep, medicine to keep them healthy, or a decent education so they can thrive in this world. I’m proud to be supporting this fine charity through the sales of my novel, Empty Arms. Together we can help save the children.
For more information, you can visit Erika's blog, Beyond the Gray, or follow her on Twitter: @erikaliodice.

Book Quotes:

I imagine a river flowing inside of me, a school of tadpoles swimming upstream aided by the gravitational advantage I'm providing.

"Catharine, Paul," Dr. Hurten begins. He measures his words, not quite able to force his eyes to meet ours.

"For ten to fifteen percent of all infertile couples" - I wince at the label - "the cause of infertility can't be explained. It's called" - and he looks almost embarrassed when he says it - "unexplained infertility."

Across the expanse of white Berber carpet, a sliver of darkness escapes from the door to the walk-in closet. Don't do this to yourself. But I will. I always do on her birthday.

One breath is all I ever allow myself for fear that I'll inhale the last remaining trace of her. One breath to prove that she exists.

My muscles tighten at the memory of fighting against hospital aides twice my size as they pinned down my shoulders and legs and...

"Your arm," she says, horrified by the scars and scabs. I yank at my sleeve, covering the hideousness. "It's nothing." "That's not nothing, Cate, Picking is self-harm."

Silence fills the line and then, "Is it really you?" I nod, but a torrent of tears holds my words...

My Review:

Empty Arms is a powerful story with a well-developed plot and characters. The story captures you and makes it impossible to put the book down. Empty Arms is full of surprises that catch you off guard. The author has the extraordinary ability to bring you to tears and then mend your broken heart. It is impossible to give you more information about the story without spoiling the book. Empty Arms deals with adoption, post traumatic syndrome, infertility, and complex relationships. Re-read everything above that the author has shared with us, and I guarantee you will be clamoring to read Empty Arms. It will touch your heart as no other book has. The book is well-written and it is obvious that the author took the time to research the subject. Empty Arms has a beginning, a middle, and a definite end. I enjoy reading this book. I am a constant learner (my own term) and I like when an author teaches me something. In my opinion, this book is a well-rounded book and well worth the read.

The author, Erika Liodice, has provided my blog with a book to give away. You can enter to win by "Rockin' the Rafflecopter." If you would like to purchase the book, you may find it on (click on the icon below.)

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. 


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  1. Motherhood: Life changing miracle, scary, challenging, awesome! I would love to read your story!

  2. I followed on GFC! I happy to say; "I love this blog" so glad I found you on Google +!

  3. I follow on GFC deanna_boocock deanna_boocock (at)

  4. Motherhood the best thing I ever did!

  5. this book sounds amazingly like Disrupted Lives - only it tells the mothers story exclusively!

  6. This seems like a very interesting book. Great review!!!!!

  7. gfc follower
    Kkrasowski at comcast dot net

  8. Motherhood is my reason for breathing.
    Kkrasowski at comcast dot net

  9. This book sounds wonderful! I just got it for Kindle. I only wish I had more time to read!!!

    Have you ever heard of _The Four Seasons_ by Mary Alice Monroe? It's about 4 sisters, one of whom had an unplanned pregnancy in the 1950s. She was sent away to have the baby and was forced to give it up. The book tells the story of how a tragedy brings the sisters to come together and uncork the silence they've held about their past for decades. I absolutely loved it. :)


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