You Belong Here Now: A Novel
by Dianna Rostad
Paperback- $14.12

“It’s so hard to believe that this is a debut novel! It’s an historic novel. Talk about hitting me on so many good points.” –John ...

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  "" by gypsykim (see profile) 08/24/21

  "A very touching book" by Silversolara (see profile) 09/08/21

Only three children left on an orphan train heading west.

We know we aren’t going to get picked. What should we do?

What they do is jump from the train.

Charles, Patrick, and Opal struggle for a few days on their own sleeping outside and searching for food.

They then come upon the Stewart farm and are taken in by the family, but they have to work hard and assure the family they are worth adopting as they hide from the The Children’s Aid Society so they won't be sent back to their dreadful lives in New York.

We follow the harsh treatment of hard work doled out as well as the love the orphans receive from the Stewarts.

YOU BELONG HERE NOW takes the reader back to the early 1900’s when an orphan train traveled across the country placing children who had no one into homes.

A very touching story. You will cry with the characters as well as be happy with them as they realize that having a family and forgiving others are the most important things in life.

Those readers who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy this book. 5/5

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

  "The Harshness of the 1920’s" by lpollinger (see profile) 01/22/22

Three young children are alone with no family. The orphans are placed on a train in New York bound for Montana. They hope to be adopted along the way. Unfortunately for the children there is only one stop left before they will be returned to an orphanage in NY. Rather than face this the older of three, Charles, talks Patrick and Opal into jumping off the train and running away. So begins their new life in the West.
They find their way to a ranch where the family there has troubles of their own. They are allowed to stay at the Stewart ranch, but must work hard. It’s not easy for them or the Stewarts’ adjust to each other. There are many trials and tribulations, but will love and compassion be enough to keep the, together?
This is a hard to put down book. A story about a very disturbing time in our country’s history. It is told beautifully.

  "A heartbreaking bit of history" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 03/22/22

You Belong Here Now, Dianna Rostad, author; Courtney Patterson, narrator
The year is 1925 and a train is carrying orphans from New York to Montana, making several stops on the way. At each stop, the children being offered for adoption, disembark to be looked over like animals available for purchase, rather than children simply in need of a loving home, a place where they can thrive far better than in an orphanage or on the streets.
Right before the last stop in Montana, three orphans who had failed to be selected, two males (14 and supposedly 16) and a female (around 7), jump from the train to avoid being sent back to New York and the awful life they had led before. Many families were afraid to adopt the orphans because of stories of the danger they might present to the families. Opal was a tiny, timid girl. She rarely spoke and bore scars on her body because of a parent that had neglected and abused her. She was a runaway. No one chose her because she did not look big enough or strong enough to perform the tasks the family needed or wanted done. Patrick, was a gentle, honest, boy originally from Cork, Ireland. His father had been killed in the war, and his mom had died from disease. No one wanted him because he didn’t seem strong enough to do chores and because he was Irish. His accent gave him away, and prejudices were very much alive and well. The oldest boy, Charles, had an obvious temper to which the bruises on his face attested. His father had also been a soldier who had been killed, after which, his mom had become an alcoholic. She neglected him and he abandoned her. He was very large for the age he gave, and his physical injuries, obviously the result of a fight, scared away potential adoptive parents. He was also thought to be a poor choice for adoption because he could not work long before his 18th birthday would arrive, after which they would have to pay him a wage. He kept his real background a secret and thought nothing of lying to protect himself and the others.
When they jumped from the moving train, Patrick was injured and unable to walk well. Charles would not abandon him so he attempted to steal a horse. He stumbled on the Stewart’s farm and got caught in the act. Horse thieves were punished severely. Although Nara, the daughter of the farmer and his wife wanted to turn him in immediately, her mother insisted on feeding the starving boy first and got him to talk. Although the story he tells is not completely true, she is taken in by his tale, as is her father. The three set out to rescue the rest of them. Instead of turning them in, the father decides they should work off the crime. He needed help on the farm. Nara, together with the American Indian, Jim, who works for them, assigns them tasks. The mother takes to the little girl. Nara does not trust the older boy. She is an angry young woman who seems unable to truly care for others. She is often mean to the children. Her mother is only too eager to care for them. She misses the daughter she lost a decade before, to a terrible accident when animals stampeded. She also misses her son who had left home to seek a career in New York.
All three children were eager to be part of a family and eager to help, even when they were sometimes mistrusted, they soldiered on. When it became known that the sheriff was searching for three children who had escaped from the orphan train, the true plight of the children is revealed, along with the grudges many townspeople have harbored through the years. How they all react and resolve their individual plights and needs is the subject of the story, and it is tenderly told and heartrending to read as it illustrates different kinds of love, the sometimes misplaced need for revenge and the basic beauty of Montana and what it has to offer to those who could work hard and appreciate it. It contrasts the hustle bustle of the big city to the quiet, not always gentle, nature of the more remote areas.
The novel is about orphaned children whose worth was undervalued, but adults, some of whose hearts were in the right place in their effort to help them to have a better life, sometimes consigned them to lives of abuse. These children were transported to cities where they were offered to families that could qualify to care for them. These families signed contracts, not always honored, to provide them with a home, treat them like family and make sure that they received an appropriate education. Often, however, examined and picked over like property, some of them were sent from the frying pan into the fire. Some families just wanted extra help on their farms, some wanted help in the kitchen, some sexually abused them, and some overworked them and did not offer them a better life at all. The prejudices of society that exist today, existed then, as well, toward those they neither understood nor wished to understand. As the story is told, one hopes that it will have a fairy tale ending. In some ways it does, but in other ways, the prejudices of the day cannot be overcome.
As the story is told, forbidden love, betrayal, and bitterness are married to loyalty, devotion, and the appreciation of the beauty of the wilderness along with the dangers of the remote, wild aspects of Montana.

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 02/20/23

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