• Alex Lopez

The Degenerates

It is rare to find a book that contains so many degrees of humanity with a true conveyal of dignifying emotions. J. Albert Mann wrote an impactful story about the young girls who were pushed aside on the back-burners of society because of physical and mental afflictions or other unsocial dispositions. Mann illustrated such a compelling, and heartbreaking, portrayal of the mental institutions of the 1900's through the alternating narratives of London, Maxine, Alice, and Rose. London is a young woman who was sent to the institution due to her pregnancy out of wedlock, Rose has Down Syndrome, Maxine is labeled as a 'moron', and Alice's clubfoot sets her apart from society.

The author does not shy away from the harsh realities of life or the tantalizing freedoms that surround the young protagonists that fill the role of being considered society's degenerates. Rather, she approaches their individual struggles in a dignifying way for each character to allow their story to unfold and enable readers to absorb these words which echo a time not too far away from our own. The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann truly possesses an incredible spirit that will gently embrace your heart and whisper a story full of courage and voices who refuse to be silenced by history.

Favorite Quotes

"Everyone was busy scraping for a bit of bread, and not searching for two missing degenerates."

"Although, there was still a twinge of light around the edges of the world."

"In the next two days she'd be home...And Rose, with her pretty grin, would be a memory."

"Miss Petruskavich was a lover of words just as much as a lover of music."

"London loved how paths started at no place and ended at no place."


The Degenerates

by J. Albert Mann Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Release Date: March 17th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction


In the tradition of Girl, Interrupted, this fiery historical novel follows four young women in the early 20th century whose lives intersect when they are locked up by a world that took the poor, the disabled, the marginalized—and institutionalized them for life.

The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded is not a happy place. The young women who are already there certainly don’t think so. Not Maxine, who is doing everything she can to protect her younger sister Rose in an institution where vicious attendants and bullying older girls treat them as the morons, imbeciles, and idiots the doctors have deemed them to be. Not Alice, either, who was left there when her brother couldn’t bring himself to support a sister with a club foot. And not London, who has just been dragged there from the best foster situation she’s ever had, thanks to one unexpected, life altering moment. Each girl is determined to change her fate, no matter what it takes.








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J. Albert Mann is the author of six novels for children, with S&S Atheneum Books for Young Readers set to publish her next work of historical fiction about the Eugenics Movement and the rise of institutionalism in the United States. She is also the author of short stories and poems for children featured in Highlights for Children, where she won the Highlights Fiction Award, as well as the Highlights Editors’ Choice Award. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the Director of the WNDB Internship Grant Committee.

Jennifer is represented by Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency.








Prize: Win (1) copy of

The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann (US Only)

Starts: March 11th 2020

Ends: March 25th 2020


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