Book Review: Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

together forever jody hedlund book review

The synopsis on the back of the book

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 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.

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction/Romance
  • Published: 5/2018
  • Pages: 343
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.35
together forever jody hedlund book review
He said unto me, My Grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most Gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9

Why I Chose this Book

I am a Bethany House Publishing Blogger Reviewer and chose this particular book for the month. When I read the synopsis I knew it was going to be a heartwarming story but also filled with important lessons. 

First Initial Thoughts

First off, how gorgeous is this cover?! Bethany House Publishing always creates the most beautiful covers. This is also the second book in the Orphan Train series. You do not have to read the first one to read this one. I would say you could read it as a standalone. 

Marianne works for the Children's Aid Society as an agent to place orphans into homes. She is partnered with another agent, Andrew Brady to take a group of children out west to be placed into homes. The agency warned Marianne to not become attached to the children, as it will be hard to let them go when it's time for them to be adopted. Marianne was once living with her sister and brother in law but wants to prove it to her sister that she can take care of herself. Her hard work ethic but also kind and compassionate personality is admirable.

Reinhold is another character in the story. Though his story was short, his affiliation with the orphans became important later on in the story. Reinhold used to know Marianne before she moved out to NYC. 

Setting

Jody did an amazing job capturing the emotion and uncertainty the children faced when going out west. They had no idea what laid out for them when they got there. They didn't know if they would end being picked by someone or left to go back to the city. Jody did a tremendous job with her research and bringing us back to the late 1850s. What the cities were like during this time and how people suffered after The Panic of 1857. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
— Isaiah 43:2

Final Thoughts

What I really found interesting was that the book was based on a real agent named Clara B. Comstock in the early 20th century. Clara made 74 trips placing orphans in homes. That is a lot of trips! 

What I did appreciate was that Jody mentioned that Marianne is from a family of immigrants. This gives hope to the reader that things will get better when a big change happens to your life. Marianne at the beginning believes that God no longer loves her because of the things she has done in the past. However, with Brady's help, she learns that is not true. God was always looking out for her and loved her even at her worst. 

Speaking of Marianne and Andrew Brady, their romance was inspiring and moving. Their chemistry was undeniable. One particular moment when one of the orphan Jethro caught Marianne and Andrew kissing was absolutely hilarious (I will stop there for sake of no spoilers). The only gripe I had about the story was Brady's constant admiration towards Marianne (internally), to the point it felt more like an infatuation than real love. However, over time that infatuation grew to love. I loved that Jody emphasized that fact. I don't think we 'love' someone at first site. We may be attracted to them but love comes over time. 

I absolutely adored the children too. The interactions between the children, Brady, and Marianne were precious. When they finally reached out west to adopt out the children were emotional. To let just about anyone adopt these children - not knowing their backgrounds must have been very hard. This was a common practice apparently. Many orphans were sent to families. Many of these families took the older children to work their fields, while the infants and children under 5 were ideal to married couples. Many children between the ages of 5 and 10 were undesirable because they were old enough to remember their past and too young to work the fields. I found this to be so sad! 

Would I Recommend?

Yes! I absolutely loved this heartwarming and touching story about finding hope and love when you think all is lost. 

 

You can purchase the book ---> HERE

The next book, Searching For You, in this series, comes out in December. I hope you had a wonderful weekend and maybe add this book to your TBR! 

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NOTE: I was sent this book to review by Bethany House Publishing. All opinions are my own.