Hi, reader friends! Today, we welcome back our author friend, Jody Hedlund, as part of a book tour for Together Forever, her latest installment of the Orphan Train series!
about the book
Together Forever by Jody Hedlund (Orphan Train book 2)
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction
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.
Too often, the grit, sweat, and suffering of our collective history is glossed over, sugar-coated, and romanticized. Hedlund employs her remarkable skills (and giftings) to produce a story that not only highlights the benevolent heart, successes, struggles, and failures of the early orphan train movement but also engages readers on an intimate level with authentic characters and a captivating plot.
Although our modern sensibilities make it difficult for us to truly comprehend the level of poverty and despair these people endured, this meticulous representation succeeds in giving readers a much-needed dose of fiction steeped in facts. My heart continues to break for these fictional children and more so for the real lives they represent yet it’s a good hurt, a necessary side-effect of the human condition and a glimmer of understanding that honors the lives of those who have gone before us.
The combination of Marianne’s compassionate heart and her grueling life experiences make her an ideal candidate for working with orphans. Andrew’s charisma, benevolence, and generosity are attractive qualities but his capacity for sacrificial love is what makes him a true hero. These lead characters are perfectly flawed and just as prone to do, say, and believe the wrong thing as the rest of us.
Together Forever is going straight to my favorites shelf, I highly recommend it and look forward to revisiting it (and encouraging my friends and loved ones to read it) for years to come. Jody Hedlund is a must read author for rich historical facts and captivating stories that challenge, entertain, and encourage!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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 website.
guest post from Jody Hedlund
30,000 Abandoned Children
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!
Orphan Train series
To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
See what other readers are saying by checking out other stops on the tour schedule!
Say hi to Jody and share your thoughts on her thought-provoking guest post, reader friends!
Be sure to add Together Forever by Jody Hedlund to your tbr!