BOOK REVIEW: An Awakened Heart by Jody Hedlund

Trying to heal the ache she feels in her empty life, wealthy Christine Pendleton decides to volunteer at Centre Street Chapel. Ministering to one of the most deprived parts of New York City, the chapel aims at making a difference in the lives of the impoverished immigrants flooding the city. After seeing firsthand the hopelessness of the poor women and orphans, Christine is convinced more can be done to help them.

Guy Bedell has been serving at the chapel and pouring his heart out for the people he's grown to care about. When Christine begins to challenge his methods and offers a new vision for reaching out to the community, can he trust that perhaps God has bigger plans in store for him--plans that may include this feisty socialite?

"Maybe instead of waiting for the miracle, you need to be the miracle."
 The introductory novella for Jody Hedlund's new Orphan Train series, which is currently available by free download for Kindle and Nook so hit the links below and get your copy, is just amazing as I expected it to be.  It's the spring of 1857 and Christine has recently lost her mother after years of caring for her after her father's death.  30 and unmarried she's resigned herself to a lifetime of singleness and takes an opportunity to volunteer at what we would consider an inner-city church in the very poor area of New York filled with tenement buildings, sweat shops, and the fact that women don't have a chance to earn even a pittance wage and must find other, less than moral means of paying rent and buying food.   The scene is set so expertly that you can hear the noise, feel the heat, and smell the stench, even while reading from the comfort of bed.  Hedlund is a powerhouse when it comes to setting the scene and placing your right into it, no matter where you really are.  For me, this is something that has set her books apart from so many others and what keeps drawing me back to her books time after time.  

On about page 2 I was ready to start yelling at my screen.  Pastor BeDell totally missed the mark.  He was so far out in left field that I was utterly disappointed in him and the ministry and and and.  But then Christine rescues it all by actually attempting to share and start what I was thinking.  She did it bigger and better but you know my mindset totally helped her out right?  When I take it into the whole picture though, his response is very much realistic of a male during this period of time.  Women were lesser.  Period.  They earned less money for the same (and sometimes better) work, they were thought to be less intelligent, they were ornaments in society and a burden to figure out in the tenements.  I was upset over his reaction to a prevailing thought process of the time.  And cheering Christine for being forward thinking and finding enough of herself to put herself forward and share her thoughts.

This book, though, has one draw back that hits on one of my pet peeves.  I don't care how 'awesome' and 'amazing' someone is, you don't know them well enough to love them or ask them to marry you in a matter of a few weeks.  OK, so my grandparents (Dad's parents) had only been seeing each other a few short weeks when they hoped the train to the next town over to get married at the courthouse.  And yes, they were married for 58 years when she passed away and he grieved himself to death over losing her.  However, this is the exception, not the rule.  It irritates me in life because I've watched these marriages destroy people who try so hard to make it work.  It irritates me in books because, again, it's the exception not the rule and sets a false expectation of life and love and relationships and romance.  That's it.  A huge personal pet peeve but the only negative in this entire novella.  I cannot wait for the first book 'With You Always', coming out soon, to carry forward this story!

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 An Awakened Heart (Orphan Train, #0.5)
About Jody Hedlund 
Winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award for fiction and Christy Award for historical romance, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

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  1. Unless their name is Marcus, right? Then? It's totally cool to have his baby the week after you met :)

    In all seriousness? <3 I told you that you would love Ms. Jody!

  2. Go marry Marcus to yourself or something :D

  3. I enjoyed your review! Jody Hedlund is a gifted author. My in-laws married at the end of WWII after just six weeks and were married 68 years until he passed away. They continue to inspire us.

    1. Watching the love Pa had for Granny growing up definitely had an impact on me. I appreciate these timeless loves that seem entirely too rare.