Sage Winters, a teenage girl living on Staten Island with her stepdad in 1971, overhears a conversation that sends her world into a tailspin and will forever change the course of her life. Her mother, who died in a car accident a few years ago, originally told her that her mentally ill, twin sister, Rosemary, died of pneumonia 6 years ago. She is distraught to find out that her sister was, instead, sent to the Willowbrook State School (an underfunded, understaffed, and inhumane insane asylum disguised as a school).
But, that’s not all. Rosemary is missing from Willowbrook, and the staff has no idea where she has gone. Fearing that she was Cropsey’s, Staten Island’s serial killer’s, latest victim, she sneaks away from her already tumultuous life and boards a bus to Willowbrook hoping to find out more information about her sister and fill in the gaps from the past 6 years.
Her trip to Willowbrook is doomed from the start, but things become more complicated when she arrives at the “School” and is instantly mistaken for Rosemary. Nobody believes her claims to be Sage, and she is forced to become a patient at Willowbrook.
Her worst nightmares would never have prepared her for the horror that is in store for her.
Her quest for knowledge immediately becomes a quest for survival.
When an up and coming reporter (none other than the real Geraldo Rivera) sneaks into Willowbrook and exposes the atrocities happening behind the scenes, Sage sees her chance at freedom. However, she starts to realize that after what she has experienced, she may never be free again.
Why I read it: Recommendation in online book group
Trigger warnings: Language, mental illness, physical/mental/psychological abuse, rape, murder, captivity