Title: With You Always
Author: Jody Hedlund
Series: Orphan Train #1
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
About the Book:
“Could following the opportunity of a lifetime cost them the love of their lives?
One of the many immigrants struggling to survive in 1850s New York, Elise Neumann knows she must take action to care for her younger sisters. She finds a glimmer of hope when the New York Children’s Aid Society starts sending skilled workers to burgeoning towns out west. But the promise of the society’s orphan trains is not all that it seems.
Born into elite New York society, Thornton Quincy possesses everything except the ability to step out from his brother’s shadow. When their ailing father puts forth a unique challenge to determine who will inherit his railroad-building empire, Thornton finally sees his chance. The conditions to win? Be the first to build a sustainable community along the Illinois Central Railroad and find a suitable wife.
Thrown together against all odds, Elise and Thornton couldn’t be from more different worlds. The spark that ignites between them is undeniable, but how can they let it grow when that means forfeiting everything they’ve been working toward?”
I can only imagine what it felt like for Elise to leave her siblings behind while she searched for work to be able to support them. The desperation of the times must have been a heavy burden to bear. We are so blessed to have all that we do in today’s age. When Elise got on the train she had no cell phone (or any other phone for that matter), or any other easy means of communication that would allow her to know how her family was faring without her presence. That had to by terrifying!
I absolutely loved the quick-witted humor in the book between Elise and Thornton. It was a bit refreshing to see a friendship develop between the two, and not just instant romance (or even the “I hate you! … Nevermind I love you!” that happens as well). I admit I love a little sarcasm but only in good humor and I believe it livened the story and added a bit of fun.
I also appreciate that the author made the characters human. Mistakes were made and they had to deal with them without placing blame at every opportunity. When struggles arose they worked to figure out their next steps and how to overcome the hardships together as a community. This was so encouraging to see.
Thanks to NetGalley I have the next book in the series as an ARC so I’ll be reading that next. Stay tuned for a review on book #2 Together Forever! 🙂
Age Appropriateness: The home that the siblings are living in at the beginning of the book is a home intended to be a refuge to save women from prostitution. They are not there for that purpose (and it’s not explained), but it is where they have found shelter. Later in the book a female character is abused but the reference to how isn’t made explicit. Overall I would consider this a good eye-opener to history while still remaining clean. I believe the intended audience is young adult, but personally I’d consider it appropriate for as young as 10 or 11 if they are at the reading level.