Book Release Party for UNFIT

Book Release Party for UNFIT


Unfit Final Cover

Unfit: The Tale of One Pregnant Teen in the Bible Belt Before Women Had Choice

By Lani Jo Leigh, owner/operator of the Clinton

It was the Age of Aquarius and a time of sexual freedom, but in Oklahoma sex, drugs and rock & roll were still the devil’s handiwork. In the repressed fundamentalist culture of her small hometown, 16-year-old Lani Jo struggled with the “sin” of her sexuality. When she learned that she was pregnant, she was given one option—banishment to a maternity home in New Orleans. While most girls were sent away for the third trimester, Lani Jo spent six months at Sellers Baptist Home for Unwed Mothers. Unfit tells the story of her time there—a time of despair, rage, betrayal, and abandonment. With twenty-four high school and college age girls residing at the Home at any one time, it is also the story of friendship and genuine caring written with humor and pathos.

Lani Jo always imagined a different ending to her story—a way she could keep her baby—but Hollywood endings are impossible to come by. A week after giving birth, she relinquished her son, Bo, for adoption and returned home alone. With no emotional support, she was told to act as if “nothing had ever happened.” But that was an impossible ask. The agonizing pain she felt from losing her son and the longing to find and know him never left her heart, mind or spirit. It sapped much of the color out of everything that followed.  

In the decades between World War II and Roe v. Wade, an astounding 1.5 million girls and young women were sent to maternity homes and coerced into relinquishing their babies. Now that women’s reproductive rights are once again fueling a divisive national debate, Unfit provides a poignant, heartbreaking and personal look into our nation’s grim history when abortion was illegal, sex education was almost non-existent, and birth control was tightly restricted. 


Advance Praise for Unfit

“Lani Jo Leigh gives voice to generations of American mothers who were coerced into silence even as their children were kidnapped from them. Unfit is a work of literary genius—at once a testament to female resilience under the horror of patriarchy and a heartening and expansive read.”

~Ariel Gore, author of The End of Eve and founder of Hip Mama Magazine

Special Admission

Free!! Books will be available for purchase at the event.