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Introduction:  First in the Orphan Train Series. Great story line, easy to follow characters.  I love historical fiction  that has a romance but goes deeper into some facet of the times and places.  With You Always dealt with immigrant issues, rich/poor, women's issues in employment and some other related issues that effected women and children in New York City in 1857.  The Orphan Train was part of an attempt to solve some of those issues.

     When a wealthy businessman's son meets a poor orphaned German immigrant living in a mission who is responsible for her 2 younger sisters and 2 young toddlers of a friend, it doesn't seem to be a situation that would lead to a serious romance.  But the author does a great job of eroding the divide between those with plenty and those struggling for survival.  There is also a competition between twin brothers that plays into the story in a major way.  Dad is dying and doesn't want to weaken his company by dividing it and to determine which son will take over the company, they must each build a substantial town along the train line and marry a woman they love within 6 months. 

Comments: I would have rated this 5 stars, this book had just won a place in my library to be read again at some point until I got to page 281 where I encountered some offending language - 2 uses of a name used to hurt and degrade women assumed to be involved in promiscuous behavior.  The feelings and anger of the woman using it could have been communicated without using that word, even with symbols, if necessary, that would get the point across. If blacking it out would solve the problem, I'd leave it at that, and proceed to tell you how great a job the author did at laying a foundation for the next book in the series and how I was anxiously awaiting it - looking forward to finding out what happened to Marianne, Sophie, Olivia and Nicholas But, this is the first of a series.  Since apparently, Bethany House does not consider that profanity and I don't use that language and don't knowingly read books or watch movies that contain that type of vocabulary, I won't be reading the sequel.    I'm also not willing to sell them in my Christian Bookstore because this language is hurtful and degrading and I don't want to encourage others to use it by putting it in their minds and giving tacit approval because I sell them.  The more you hear or read words like this the more likely you are to use them.  So if that language doesn't bother you, and you read With You Always and the sequels, send me a note and let me know what happened to them all.

Note for the author: I loved this book, except for page 281.  This is supposed to be a Christian book - use your writing skills to find a creative way to communicate Tante Brunhilda's feelings of betrayal and anger at Marianne that doesn't encourage the use of abusive words among the Christians who read your book.  There is enough of that language everywhere we go, we don't need it in a "Christian" book.


My review standards:  
     Language:  Page 231 includes 2 uses of a word that is used to hurt and degrade a woman assumed to be involved in promiscuous behavior
     Characters: 
the author does a great job of describing realistic characters who share in difficult times, being like a family and creating circumstances that bring together people that you would never expect to become friends.  Shared difficulties help us to see things differently.
     Faith issues: 
Elise deals with difficulties with her faith throughout life's trials, other issues include: immigration, women responsible for a family, poverty/wealth, homelessness, prostitution, compassion, forgiveness, hope
     Who should read this?   
Those who have been caught in, know someone or care about those who have been caught in some of the difficult circumstances of life and need hope and encouragement.  Those who want to learn more about some of the struggles of life that faced immigrants in 1857 in New York City.  Those who hope for eroding the divide between classes - rich vs poor Those who love a good romance and are not offended by language
     Don't read it:  If you are offended by degrading and hurtful words used by a woman to another woman.


Disclaimer:  I have received a copy of this book for free for the purpose of reviewing it so that you can have additional information to help in your purchasing decisions. 

With You Always

by Jody Hedlund