Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.
Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children–firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up placing orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.
I’ve heard talks about the Orphan Trains – some say they were good things as they took children from the overcrowded slums of New York and allowed them to grow up in the Midwest. Others view the Orphan Trains as negative as the children were merely taken in as indentured servants, exchanging the hard life of New York for the challenging life of a midwestern farmer. In this novel, Jody Hedlund brings to life both sides – some of the children become beloved children of the childless while others are mistreated. I loved how the author made it real – it wasn’t easy, yet as Marianne discovers, “Maybe she wouldn’t be able to find them all homes and parents like _____, but if she helped even a few of the children find happiness, wasn’t the pain and heartache worth it?”
Honestly, I can’t imagine taking on a job like Marianne did – riding on a train for several weeks, responsible, with the help of only 1 other adult for 30 children, from babes to teens, and hoping to find good homes for all the kids before returning to New York and doing it all over again. But it was wonderful to read about her experience and I highly recommend it! I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Author: Jody Hedlund: Winner of 2016 Christian Book Award for fiction and Christy Award for historical romance, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.