Title: For the Love of Pete: An Orphan Train Story
Author: Ethel Barker
Genre: Adventure/Historical/Young Adult/
A well woven story of historical fact and adventure. Following the murder of their mother, Iris and her sister Rosie flee a New York tenement and begin their struggle to survive on the streets. The girls meet Pete who buys them food and treats them with kindness. A strong bond of friendship and devotion quickly develop between these three, friendship needed to persevere through one shocking event after another as they all end up on the Orphan Train from New York City to the land of Iowa. In spite of their longing to be reunited, Iris, Rosie, and Pete are forcibly and unjustly kept apart. Each of the three children tells his/her story about the love that sustains them through painfully hard times.
I put my name down for For the Love of Pete because I enjoy social history and also enjoy reading children’s and YA literature. In my personal historical children’s books library I have the whole series of the ‘Little House’ books, ‘What Katy Did’ and ‘Anne of Green Gables’ to name a few, as well as lots of stand alones such as ‘The Secret Garden’ and ‘Little White Horse’. So I was expecting more of the same, and was not let down by the author, Ethel Barker, however FOR THE LOVE OF PETE is much grittier than I expected. This is not a bad thing. The orphan train really happened; it is a piece of American history that is relatively unknown; it ran between 1859 and 1920 and affected around 200,000 children. The idea the train was based on was good – destitute children from the city were to be given the chance of a better life. For most this did happen, but for some life was not good as they lived in slave-like conditions and experienced dreadful cruelty. Ethel Barker has managed to cover all scenarios in this her debut book as we share the at times heartbreaking adventures of the three children, each taking it in turns to tell the story. Fourteen-year-old Iris is chosen by an older couple needing a hired girl; seven-year-old Rosie finds a home with a wealthy family; and Pete ends up with a cruel farmer and treated as a slave on his poorly run farm. There are plenty of twists and turns before the ‘happy ever after’ and some horrendous scenes that caused a tear or two to be shed – but it is a story that needs to be told. I will certainly read anymore books that Ethel Barker brings out.
Rating: C – Above average. Was very readable and enjoyable.
For more about the author – Click Here
With thanks to Smith Publicity and Ice Cube press via Netgalley.