About the Book
Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won’t abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.
Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.
Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he’s in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?
**sighs** I have been waiting for this story since I first read book one in the series. Sweet, stubborn, dedicated Sophie is a character that I grew to love even more in this story. The sacrifices she makes for her brother and sister are remarkable, and it’s easy to see why readers are so captivated with her. I always thought perhaps her and Reinhold Weiss should have a story together, and I was delighted to see them run into each other in this story.
Hedlund is a master orphan train story teller. Of all the books that she has written, this series has been my absolute favorite. She easily brings you to the 1850’s, and pulls you into the orphan world from start to finish. You become so enamored with the characters that they feel like family, which is why I am so happy this has been a series. While I am sad to see it go, I am secretly hoping it just means that Hedlund’s off to start another fantastic series!
Great dialogue, well developed characters, a charming setting, and the theme of hope woven throughout the pages, historical fiction fans are sure to love the latest in the Orphan Train series. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Interview with Jody!
What is the inspiration behind your orphan train series?
I have long been fascinated by the era of the Orphan Trains and the heart-wrenching stories of the homeless and helpless young orphans that were taken from eastern cities and shipped west by the dozens. I was familiar with stories of those scared orphans who were placed out in what was thought to be a more wholesome, healthy environment of the newly settled Mid-Western states. Some of the orphans found happy endings and were adopted into loving families. Others experienced great abuse and heartache in their new homes.
While stories of the orphans who rode the trains have been told—and rightly so—the stories of the women who were involved in the movement are not as well known. One of the things I particularly like to do when telling my stories, is focus on women who have been overlooked by the pages of history. I consider it a great privilege to be able to bring forgotten women to life for our modern generation. Thus, throughout this series, I’ll be focusing each book on a different aspect of the Orphan Train movement, particularly from the perspective of women who experienced riding the trains in one form or another.
What special research did you do in writing Searching For You?
I gleaned a great deal of valuable information from a well-researched book, Orphan Trains, by Stephen O’Connor. He paints a vivid picture of what life was like for orphans in the nineteenth century in the immigrant slums of New York City. He says that between twenty to thirty percent of children became orphans before the age of fifteen. That’s roughly one in four children.
A large number of children were considered “half-orphans” because they’d lost one parent and the other wasn’t capable of providing for them adequately. If other relatives couldn’t help, the orphans ended up in asylums or living out on the street taking care of themselves. Asylums, like the Infant’s Hospital on Randall’s Island, typically lost around seventy percent of the children who went to live there due to unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.
Overall, O’Connor’s book with its many stories of orphans and their experiences allowed me to ride the orphan trains with them and feel their fear, anxiety, excitement, and even sorrow.
What do you hope readers take away from Searching For You?
I hope that readers gain a greater awareness of just how difficult a time the nineteenth century was for so many of our nation’s children. I also hope readers gain an appreciation for the many families who opened their homes and hearts to homeless children. May their example inspire us to do likewise.
Searching For You is the fourth book you’ve released in 2018. How do you find time to write so many books?
In order to write four books a year, I plot out my writing schedule at the beginning of the year so that I know how much time I need to budget in for each book (including the first draft as well as editing). Once I have the overall schedule, then I figure out how many words to write every week in order to stay on track.
What are you working on next?
I’m in the editing phase of the first book of a brand new series, A Reluctant Bride, which releases in June of 2019 (next summer). The series is inspired by several bride-ships that left England in the early 1860s and sailed to British Columbia in Canada where there was a shortage of women. When the first bride-ship arrived in Vancouver, hundreds of men lined the shores to greet them and be the first to find a bride.
As I was researching this fascinating era, questions kept surfacing. What kind of woman would join a bride-ship? Why would these women leave everything they knew to sail halfway around the world for the purpose of becoming brides to men they didn’t know? I hope you’ll join me in exploring the answers to these question as I delve into my new series.
Thank you for visiting the blog today!
About the Author
Jody Hedlund is the author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.
Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).
When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.