Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

I enjoyed reading Together Forever, the second book in the Hedlund’s Orphan Train series. Created around the historical orphan trains that took children who were orphans from the streets of New York City, this story shows how they were relocated with families living in the rural Midwest. Through the strong character of Marianne, and her kind yet mysterious coworker Andrew, we follow a group of children from the city to new homes.

Written with grace, depth and meticulous historical accuracy, Jody Hedlund creates a poignant retelling of a truly complex historical happening in the United States. While some children found loving families to care for them, Hedlund shows how these good intentioned orphan trains sometimes created more heartache for the children they were meant to help. Through strong characters, authentic details, complex emotions and unexpected plot twists, Hedlund creates an unforgettable story about the orphan trains and their far reaching consequences. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of Together Forever by Jody Hedlund for my candid review.


Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

Undaunted Hope is Jody Hedlund’s third book in her Beacons of Hope series. Set in the upper peninsula of Michigan Undaunted Hope introduces us to Tessa, a new school teacher who arrives in Eagle Harbor to teach school in a remote mining community. While Tessa’s new adventure helps her escape her past for a time, soon she realizes that although she is miles away from her past, her mistakes and fears have followed her in powerful way. With the help of the lightkeeper’s family, Tessa finds hope and healing and a community of people who truly care about her.

I found this novel of Hedlund’s intense and authentic. Tessa and Alex are strong, complex characters that create a powerful story of hope and desire. Percival Updegraff is the perfect villain to twist up the plot. And the other supporting characters create a story of a community that knows how to endure, but only passively. I like how even though Tessa is only one woman, she brings hope to a community that needs hope and courage, and she is willing to fight relentlessly to share that hope, even when her hope seems gone.

While somewhat difficult to read about, the hardships that Tessa faced with the other characters mirrored well the hardships of remote mining communities who struggled to survive in harsh natural conditions and under harsher, despotic bosses. With unexpected plot twists and a lot of dirt and cold, Hedlund draws readers into a historical reality that is worth exploring and understanding.

While I wouldn’t call Undaunted Hope relaxing to read, it was definitely unforgettable. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund for my candid review.

Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope) by Jody Hedlund

As a recent fan of Jody Hedlund, I was excited to read her newest novella, Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope). Although this novella’s plot was not quite as intense of some of her other historical novels, author Jody Hedlund still delivers a delightful tale of hope and loss, expectations and realities, and future possibilities.

The story begins in a storms and ends in a storm, but so much happens in between. Isabelle Thornton lives with her father who is light keeper of an isolated lighthouse on the Michigan coastline. As an only child, living with her widowed father, Isabelle has limited experience with strangers outside her tiny cottage. When her father rescues an injured man from a shipwreck, Isabelle finds herself confronting many new experiences, some terrifying and some exhilarating.

Hedlund does an incredible job of communicating Isabelle’s fear and insecurities to us in a raw, palpable way. As Isabelle struggles to deal with the fear that hovers over her future, she discovers much in the present that gives her hope for a different future than she planned for.

While the stranded Henry drastically changes life for Isabelle, I found his character less authentic than Isabelle’s character. Henry seems sincere in his behavior and promises to Isabelle, but I hoped for a more substantive evidence of his inner transformation to become a better person.

Regardless, I love how Hedlund transports us to the coast and into lives of keepers of lighthouses almost effortlessly with her inimitable talent for carefully choosing historical details that create such vivid and breathing plots.