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.
Hedlund's overly dramatic second Orphan Train historical novel (after With You Always) focuses on Marianne Neumann, who, in 1858 New York, resolves to find both her younger sister, Sophie, and her friend Reinhold, to whom she'd like to be engaged. Both have allegedly headed west on trains filled with orphans who are looking for homes and work across the American heartland. Marianne finally comes across Reinhold as she travels through the small towns spanning southern Illinois, but also meets Andrew Brady, a devout fellow placing agent and former schoolteacher who is wonderful with the children but hides a heavy burden from his past. After her time searching for Reinhold, Marianne can't help but admit that her feelings are changing. Marianne and Andrew become closer as they struggle through days on the train, and lean on each other during the difficult process of seeing the children leave for new homes. They become close, but also face tragedy and Andrew's potential arrest. In the end, Marianne relies on her biblical principles to battle against misplaced loyalties and her desire to please others in order to find happiness. As Marianne gets closer to Sophie while connecting with Andrew and the orphans under her supervision, the many overlapping, highly emotional plot lines eventually overwhelm the story.
This whole series offers so much more plot than you often find in this genre. The characters are likable and engaging, and the plots draw you in. Highly recommended.
This is an absolutely incredible historical romance!
I love the characters in this book. They are extremely well developed. I was able to relate to them and truly empathize with the heartaches that they were dealing with.
Until I started reading this series of books I really didn’t know anything about the orphan train. I had no idea of the plight that so many children were facing right in New York City during this period of history.
This marvelous book truly showed me the hard work that some of the adults were willing to put into trying to help the children to have a better life. My heart broke for many of the children as they were dealing with feelings of abandonment and unworthiness. Their fear of the unknown was palpable.
I look forward to seeing what other aspects of the Orphan Train this author has researched and brings to life in future books.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through Celebrate Lit. I have chosen to write this review to express my personal opinions.
Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
Together Forever by Jody Hedlund is the second novel in Orphan Train series. Our journey begins in 1858 in New York City where Marianne Neumann has taken a job with the Children’s Aid Society. While Marianne could life a life of luxury since her sister married Thornton Quincy, she is determined to find her sister, Sophie. Marianne will be embarking on her first tour the next day, and the other agent who will be accompanying her is Andrew “Drew” Brady. Drew is a former schoolteacher who is good with children. He has a way of making things fun and entertaining for them. Drew, though, has secrets from his own past that continue to haunt him. The pair journey across Illinois finding homes for their children in their charge. They get to know each other and grow closer on the tour. Then an unfortunate tragedy occurs that will change the future they had planned. Will they be able to overcome this tremendous obstacle? Hop on for trip into the past in Together Forever.
Together Forever is well-written and an engaging novel. The book has a gentle pacing, good flow and smooth transitions between sections. While it is the second book in the series, Together Forever can be read alone. With You Always is summarized in this installment in the Orphan Train series. However, I recommend reading the series in order. You get to see the characters mature. Marianne has changed and regrets her actions in With You Always. It was interesting to find out more about the orphan trains and how they operated. What these children suffered is just heartbreaking (living on the streets, being abandoned, having no food, abusive homes). As Marianne soon discovers, you can only pray that God will deliver them into good Christian homes and that the children will not be harmed or used for free labor. I appreciated that we get to see a variety of people in the story. Farmers, shopkeepers, housewives, business people, and children. Many of them are wholesome Christians, but there are a couple of bad seeds. They are realistic characters with flaws, issues, and concerns. It was pleasurable to catch up with Elise and Reinhold. There are good and valuable life lessons in the story (keeping Faith, importance of prayers, violence is wrong, forgiving yourself as well as others). Together Forever is a heartwarming, Christian novel. It is an emotional book that will tug at your heartstrings. I am curious to read Sophie’s story and look forward to the release of Searching for You.