Searching For You ~ Review with Interview

Searching For You
Orphan Train #3
By Jody Hedlund

Sophie Neumann knows how to run - she's been doing it for the past couple years doing whatever she had to do to ensure that Olivia and Nicholas survived. And she'd do almost anything to provide for them. But when Sophie is forced to flee New York City she, the children and her friend Anna find themselves on a Children's Aid Society train headed to Illinois with the promise that they would be placed in homes that wanted them. Her heart is torn with her lack of proper provision for Olivia and Nicholas and her desire to never be parted from them. Can she come up with one more scheme to keep them all safe and together? Sophie is determined to try.

Reinhold Weiss has his farm and is working to be able to bring his sisters to Mayfield but the work is hard and Reinhold is determined to not accept help from others. His brother Jakob is all the help he needs, except his neighbors, the Duffs are determined to help him as much as possible around their own heavy workload. And Euphemia Duff is one of those motherly types who just has to care and her meals are better than anything he or his brother could put together.

When Sophie, Anna, Olivia, and Nicholas arrive in Mayfield they are each taken into homes those some more eagerly than others. Sophie is offered a home by Euphemia who is nothing like Sophie expected. She is kind and not harsh which considering Sophie's lack of basic household skills surprises her to no end. But the biggest surprise is when Reinhold and Jakob Weiss join the family for dinner. Fearing that Reinhold will betray her to her older sisters Sophie is ready to once again run until she extracts a promise of silence from Reinhold.

Knowing that Elise and Marianne are searching for Sophie Reinhold reluctantly agrees, knowing that if he doesn't Sophie will soon be gone again. What he never expected or wanted was to be drawn to this young woman whom he had previously thought of as a little sister. His feelings couldn't be more wrong - after all, Sophie's sisters were married to men of wealth who could provide her with her every wish and could introduce to men of similar power and position. But Sophie needs his help now and he'll do whatever he can to keep her safe and from running away. There is just one problem with this he may lose his heart before he can see her safely home with her sisters.

Searching For You is the third and final book in the Orphan Train series. This one focuses on Sophie and the two young children who were in the Neumann family's care in With You Always. The Orphan Trains that sent children from the city to rural communities were offering a hope of a better life, though as touched upon in this book it was not always the case.

Both Sophie and Reinhold were broken by their pasts, fears of never being good enough held them in bondage. Letting go of their fears and worrying about measuring up to the high standards that they had set for themselves was essential for them to grow into who they could and should be. It is interesting to see Reinhold's progression through this series and the different role he played in each sisters life. Though you could read this book on its own it is better to read this series in order so as to not miss key factors that bring this book and series to a most satisfying conclusion.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book through the publisher and the author with no expectations but that I offer my honest opinion - all thoughts expressed are my own.

About the Book:
Her search for a place to call home
leads her to the last place she ever expected

After witnessing a crime, Sophie Neumann disappears with her two young charges on an orphan train heading west. At the first stop, she faces the most difficult choice of her life. Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm when an old friend shows up, pleading for help. But how can he help her when mounting debts and past scars still haunt him?

Author Q and A:
1. 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.
2. Searching For You is the fourth book you’ve released in 2018. How do you find time to write so many books?
Yes, this year I’ve released FOUR books: two medieval young adult novels, A Loyal Heart and A Worthy Rebel, AND two orphan train novels, Together Forever and Searching For You.
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. 
3. How did you come up with the idea for the third book in the series, Searching For You?
With You Always, the first book in the series centers around adult women who rode the orphan trains in a special limited placement for homeless and jobless women. The second book, Together Forever, depicts the orphan train experience through the eyes of placing agents who worked for the Children’s Aid Society.
Since the first two books view the orphan train movement from the lenses of grown women, in the third book I wanted to find a way to give the perspective directly from an orphan. However, in my initial planning, I wasn’t quite sure how to pull off an orphan’s view since my heroines are always adults.
As I wrestled through how to accomplish this third perspective, I crafted a young woman who was coming of age and could pose as one of the older orphan train children who were in high demand because of their ability to help contribute to the heavy workloads of families struggling to survive in the farming communities of the Mid-West.
4. What essential ingredients do you strive for in your novels to ensure an authentic love story emerges?
I always try to incorporate the elements that I like to see in the romances I read. That includes deep emotions that are birthed out of a character's past. I also like to have a relationship that evolves organically throughout the book. I try not to have my characters being antagonistic to one another the whole book and then finally falling in love in the last chapter at the last minute. I want the couple to move from friendship to falling in love gradually and to have a growing attraction (with the sparks flying!) throughout the book.
At the same time, however, I don't like to have the love relationship resolve too early in the book. Readers don't want the "happily-ever-after" moment to come until the end. So while the relationship is developing, it's important to find ways to keep the couple from being fully together until the end.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Do you have any parting words?
I love hearing from readers! Make sure you stop by one of these places and say hello!
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
Find me on Instagram: instagram.com/jodyhedlund/
Come pin with me on Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund/pins/

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~ Blooming with Books