About the Book
Title: Together Forever, Orphan Train Book 2
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Inspirational historical romance
Release Date: May, 2018
Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.
Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, 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 in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.
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About the Author
Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.com.
Guest Post from Jody Hedlund
30,000 Abandoned Children
By Jody Hedlund
Imagine a city where 30,000 abandoned and homeless children live on the streets.
Sounds like something from a futuristic dystopian novel, doesn’t it? Or something that might happen after a war or apocalypse or major disaster, right?
This exact thing actually happened in the 1850’s. And the city was New York City.
It’s hard to believe, but an estimated 30,000 homeless children roamed the dirty city streets and alleys of New York City.
30,000. Children. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s the size of a town.
Historians look back on that time and try to make sense what led to such horrific conditions for children. Of course, the influx of immigrants was at an all time high. Jobs and housing were scarce. Diseases were rampant. Hunger and poverty became a norm. (Orphan Train Depot)
As more and more people became aware of the enormous problem within the crowded slums, courageous heroes rose up and attempted to do their part to make a difference.
While we may not always agree with the methods that were used to save the thousands of homeless children, we can admire the men and women who could no longer sit idly by.
The Children’s Aid Society was started by Charles Loring Brace as one such attempt to help the hordes of homeless children. His “Emigration Plan” is better known today by the term “Orphan Trains.”
My latest series tackles various elements of the orphan train movement. Together Forever, releasing in May, highlights the placing agents, those devoted people who rode the trains with the orphans. The agents spent weeks and months on the road caring for the children, all the while trying to place them in loving homes.
(If you’d like to try out the series, start with my FREE novella, An Awakened Heart.)
Like the brave men and women who came before us, may we always strive to do our part to make a difference!
Sometimes there are stories that tug at your heart in a way that makes you fall to your knees in tears. This story was one of them. From the beginning as I became acquainted with Marianne, I felt a bond to her. She is looking for her sister, but also takes a position with the Children's Aid Society. I didn't realize that in the late 1850s there were so many children in need of a safe place to live. I cringed when I read about the abuse some had endured. My heart went out to them as I know first hand what it is like to be abused as a child. Why would a society think that children who begged to stay alive belonged in asylum? Did it have to do with money for the places the children were at?
When Marianne meets Drew I was hopeful they could find safe passage for the children. Their journey will be met with danger, tragedy and secrets. What was it like to travel with a group of children on a train for days? The adults seemed to be able to entertain them for the most part. I loved the race that Marianne and Drew had. I wonder who won? The story made me wonder why Drew was so driven to help the children? Was it something from his past that fed his desire to help them?
The author does a great job of expressing how the children felt as they realized they were going to new homes. I don't really like change and it's hard for me to adjust to it. Some of the children were having a difficult time and wanted to go home. I think the unknown is what can cause us to be fearful. When they reached their destination I found it hard to see how the children seemed to be on display for people. Can you imagine being looked at as someone decides if they want you or not? I fear that some of the people there were looking for children who could do chores for them and no intention of showing them compassion. What a difficult situation it was for Marianne to watch as children were picked to go with a new family. Will the children be treated well at their new home? The horrible statement the sheriff makes about the children being garbage and stinking up the town was devastating . I think I would have to let the sheriff know that his judgment of the children were uncalled for.
When tragedy strikes one of the children chaos ensues. I thought it was strange that instantly fingers pointed to Drew. Why are so many people turning against Drew? The story takes on a plan that I wasn't quite in agreement with. Marriage is a very important commitment and I have to question if the two people involved are doing it for the right reason. Is Drew willing to sacrifice his freedom and happiness because of guilt? I did enjoy the intrigue the author included in the story. It made it a bit more interesting and focused on trusting and forgiveness. Drew has much to forgive himself for, but his pride and guilt won't let him. The author does a great job of allowing Drew to believe he is guilty of a crime because the townspeople said he was. What must Marianne think when she finds out about his past? I liked the ending even though it seemed a bit rushed and tied up neatly in a bow. I did enjoy learning about children who became orphans and wanted someone to love them. I would have liked to see more of the background of the Children's Aid Society and how much they do to help children find a forever home. It would be great to see a follow up story and revisit some of the children in their new homes.
I received a copy of this book for free from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Click below to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/cee5/together-forever-celebration-tour-giveaway