Title: With You Always
Series: Orphan Train #1
Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
Published Date: June 6, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian, New adult?
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund
When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She's had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children's Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn't want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.
The son of one of New York City's wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother's shadow and is determined to win his father's challenge. He doesn't plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.
Thank you to NetGalley and Bethany House for the free e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
When I heard the title of this series, I was expecting it to be about children, or maybe a few young teenagers. Instead, this one was about a young woman (new adult age range) who has to take care of her younger siblings and some other children they have taken in, during a time when money was non-existent for the poor single women. We see Elise struggle to keep shelter and food for her family young siblings, and we see some incredibly kind people try and help her. But we also see how tough things were, and how limited women's choices really were during this time in history.
After exhausting all of their options in the city, Elise decides she has to go west on the orphan train to a small railroad town and to send money back to her young siblings until she can afford for them to come and be with her.
This is when the story really started to get interesting to me. Not only do we get to see how these small railroad towns started, but also how little the real owners of the railroad companies understood what their employees were having to deal with for such little pay. We see the struggles and compassion that these women went through and how over time they all started protecting one another. They knew nobody else was going to stop certain things from happening so they had to do it themselves.
Overall I really loved this story. Learning about a different part of the orphan train and some of the societies that helped bring people west was fascinating. It's something that I haven't really read much about before, despite being absolutely fascinated by it. That is fully my fault because after reading several stories about how awful the children were treated by their adoptive parents, I just could keep reading them. It's nice now to have a different side of the orphan train stories and to really see what might have happened with women wanting to go west as well. I've always wondered how women were able to go west that didn't already have family or friends out there and this really showed how, and why they were sent or allowed to go 'alone'.
As for the romance, it was extremely cliche and honestly was so easy to tell what was going to happen from the first time the two characters met.
I can't wait to read the next book in this series and see if we continue on with this character, or get a companion novel?