by Julie Dewey
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
eBook & Paperback; 280p
Genre: Historical Fiction
Raised on a farm, Tabitha Salt, the daughter of Irish immigrants, leads a bucolic and sheltered existence. When tragedy strikes the family, Tabitha and her mother are forced to move to the notorious Five Points District in New York City, known for its brothels, gangs, gambling halls, corrupt politicians and thieves.
As they struggle to survive in their new living conditions, tragedy strikes again. Young Tabitha resorts to life alone on the streets of New York, dreaming of a happier future.
The Sisters of Charity are taking orphans off the streets with promises of a new life. Children are to forget their pasts, their religious beliefs, families and names. They offer Tabitha a choice: stay in Five Points or board the orphan train and go West in search of a new life.
The harrowing journey and the decision to leave everything behind launches Tabitha on a path from which she can never return.
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Upon beginning my read of this book, I really got into the story of Tabitha, later renamed Mary by the orphan train organizer, Sister Agnes. I do know a fair bit of the history at this time, and I found the first part really kept to the historical details. I felt sad for Tabitha when she lost her mother to an infection, as disease was so rampant in the industrialized areas during and after the Civil War.
As the novel went on, I found myself becoming less connected to Tabitha, as the perspective of the novel shifted to the other characters, and some parts even seemed far-fetched or historically inaccurate, such as the portion on suggesting Gert receive hypnotherapy, which was widely shunned as charlatanism in America at the time, and mostly practiced in Britain and France. I do understand this is historical fiction, but things like this stick out to me as not consistent with the history of the time. There are some graphic scenes, almost too graphic, so I would not recommend this novel to anyone under the age of 18.
I personally feel the author could have done well sticking to the story of Tabitha, seeing the world through her eyes as she traveled west. I feel some of the other characters were introduced to give the story conflict that may have not been needed. It would have been interesting to have a historical note at the end as well, talking about the goal of the orphan trains, and how the children were often not forgotten by biological parents, who later tracked them down. Overall though, this was an entertaining, quick read, with an insight to a program that lasted until the 1930s, the precursor to the welfare system we know now.
About the Author
Julie Dewey is a novelist who resides with her family in Central New York. Her daughter is a singer/songwriter, and her son is a boxer. Her husband is an all-around hard working, fantastic guy with gorgeous blue eyes that had her falling for him the moment they met.
In addition to researching and writing she is an avid reader. She is also passionate about jewelry design and gemstones. She loves anything creative, whether it be knitting, stamping, scrapping, decoupaging, working with metal, or decorating.
Visit her at www.juliedewey.com to get your reading guide for this book and to read an excerpt from One Thousand Porches, her second novel. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Blog Tour Schedule
Thursday, March 10
Review at Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne
Monday, March 14
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, March 17
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Sunday, March 20
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, March 21
Review at The Baking Bookworm
Tuesday, March 29
Review at Beth’s Book Nook
Thursday, March 31
Review at Impressions in Ink
Wednesday, April 13
Spotlight at Passages to the Past