Kate Howarth was only a baby when her mother abandoned her after she was caught trying to throw her off a balcony. Her grandmother grudgingly looked after her, shunting her back and forth between relatives, before making her a ward of the state. Ten Hail Marys traces Howarth’s early childhood into adolescence and gives the reader a unique insight into the lives of Indigenous people in inner Sydney and rural New South Wales in the 1950s and 1960s. Howarth is a natural storyteller, combining powerfully wrought portraits of her extended family with deft imagery of landscape and place. She was a victim of childhood abuse and poverty, but her remarkable strength enabled her to survive. At 15 years of age she became pregnant, and was sent off to St Margaret’s Home for unwed mothers in Sydney. This achingly poignant memoir is shocking in its revelation of the Catholic Church’s treatment of unwed mothers—abuse and intimidation tactics failed to convince Howarth to give her baby up for adoption. Her ability to withstand such cruelty is testament to her indomitable spirit. This compelling story is an important part of Australia’s social history. Filled with pathos, energy and insight, it will appeal to a broad readership.