Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Source: Review copy from the Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars
Synopsis from the Publisher:
Montana, 1925 — Three brave kids from New York board the orphan train headed west. An Irish boy who lost his whole family to Spanish flu, a tiny girl who won’t talk, and a volatile young man who desperately needs to escape Hell’s Kitchen. They are paraded on platforms across the Midwest to work-worn folks and journey countless miles, racing the sun westward. Before they reach the last rejection and stop, the kids come up with a daring plan, and they set off toward the Yellowstone River and grassy mountains where the wild horses roam.
Fate guides them toward the ranch of a family stricken by loss. Broken and unable to outrun their pasts in New York, the family must do the unthinkable in order to save them.
Nara, the daughter of a successful cattleman, has grown into a brusque spinster who refuses the kids on sight. She’s worked hard to gain her father’s respect and hopes to run their operation, but if the kids stay, she’ll be stuck in the kitchen.
Nara works them without mercy, hoping they’ll run off, but they buck up and show spirit, and though Nara will never be motherly, she begins to take to them. So, when Charles is jailed for freeing wild horses that were rounded up for slaughter, and an abusive mother from New York shows up to take the youngest, Nara does the unthinkable, risking everything she holds dear to change their lives forever.
YOU BELONG HERE NOW is a touching historical drama about survival, acceptance, and creating a family beyond blood. Set in Montana in the 1920s, the story follows the last three children from an orphan train who jump off to find work and possibly a new home on a cattle ranch. The family that they find are struggling with their own grief and loss.
I enjoyed this absorbing tale that brings to light the perilous lives of orphans at the time, as well as the bigotry faced by Irish immigrants and indigenous people. What a terrifying prospect it must have been to be sent west into the unknown, as you could only hope that you’re taken in by decent people. The writing was a bit melodramatic at times, but overall this coming of age novel is enjoyable and uplifting.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program in exchange for my honest review.