In Prohibition-era New York City, Eunice Ritter, an indomitable ten-year-old girl, finds work in a sweat shop—an industrial laundry—after impairing her older brother with a blow to the head in a sibling tussle. When the diminutive girl first enters the sorting room, she encounters a giant: Gussie, the largest human being she has ever seen.
Gussie, a powerful, hard-working woman, soon becomes Eunice’s mentor and sole friend as she finds herself entrapped in the laundry’s sorting room by the Great Depression, sentenced to bring her low wages home to her alcoholic parents as penance for her childhood mistake. Then, on her sixteenth birthday, Eunice becomes pregnant and her drunken father demands that the culprit marry his daughter, trapping her anew—this time in a loveless marriage, along with a child she never wanted. Within a couple of years, Eunice makes a grave error and settles into a lonely life of drudgery that she views as her own doing. She spends decades in virtual solitude before her secret history is revealed to those from whom she has withheld her love.
An epic family saga, The Sorting Room is a captivating tale of a woman’s struggle and perseverance in faint hopes of reconciliation, if not redemption.