By MARTHA DEERINGER
Genre: Young Adult / Historical Fiction / Sweet Romance
Publisher: Melange Books
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 224
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Desperate to escape her squalid life on the streets of New York City, sixteen-year-old Fiona Finn seeks help at the magnificent Church of the Ascension where Charles Loring Brace, a social reformer horrified by the plight of New York City’s street children, arranges for her to go west aboard an Orphan Train.
Fiona’s homeless, alcoholic father has other plans, however. He wants Fiona to “work” the streets to support his drinking and pursues her across the midwest until she is forced to abandon the train in Houston to avoid a sheriff bent on returning her to her father.
Alone in the dark on the Texas prairie, Fiona’s terrifying experience with a circus elephant, Bolivar, sets the stage for a future she could never have imagined.
PRAISE FOR ELEPHANT DREAMS:
Elephant Dreams will be featured in the January, 2018 issue of the Historical Novel Society magazine.
“What a story! With scenes to be likened to any Charles Dickens novel, the author, Martha Deeringer, carries the reader on a breathtaking journey through despair and hope that changes as often as the wind changes direction. Great characters, a believable story, an insight into another world, and an empathy for a character that a reader would have to have a heart of stone not to sympathise with. Although billed as a young adult story, this will readily appeal to an adult reader. Very visual writing and the makings of a classic.” — Jane Finch for Readers’ Favorite
“I absolutely adored this novel; I couldn’t find a single thing to dislike about it, other than of course the characters we are meant to dislike. The secondary characters were just as well rounded as the primary characters, leaving the reader with a feeling of contentment at the end of the novel. Each character brought his or her own three-dimensional personality to the novel, giving me a reason to either love or hate them passionately.” — Acwoolet for Online Book Club
“I thoroughly enjoyed Elephant Dreams. It is a captivating story with a spunky heroine who is determined to turn her life around. I loved the unique settings that covered New York City slums, an orphan train and a Texas Circus. I would recommend it for teens through adults.” – 5 Stars, Kindle Edition | Verified Purchase
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All Fiona wants is a new life. A better life. New York is a city filled with people struggling to survive. The bitter reality is that everyone is scared and can only think about their own family and livelihood. However, Fiona hopes for more. The children like her roam the streets rather than be sent to the Children’s Asylum or worse. After a frightening attack, she determines that her life will not get better unless she takes a step forward. She walks into the Church and implores the Pastor for help. This brave decision sets her on a unpredictable path and adventure.
Only looking to work and have an honest life, her compassion and willingness bring out the sympathy of others. She discovers many varieties of people that, despite their situation, help her escape her dire situation. The largest and most gentle is Bolivar, a male Indian elephant. Once scared of him, Fiona’s admiration for Bolivar grows as she observes his vitality and kind spirit. I especially liked her passages in her journal about the people and animals in her life.
‘When he walks beside me I feel powerful, even though the power is his and not mine, and when he wraps his trunk around me I imagine it is the arm of a friend.’
Bolivar becomes a way that she can open up and remember what it was like to have a family. With the strength he gives her, she finds herself becoming part of this lively and contrasting family. I was just so enamored about this book. I read so much fantasy and to fall into this gritty and exotic tale with bits of history made the pages fly. I had to stop myself from staying up all night to finish it.
Deeringer made me cry. There I said it. It’s sometimes difficult to connect with characters when I read quite a lot. Yet her characters are so wonderfully written. They struggle and love one another. Aunt Mollie Bailey, the circus owner, is prepared to defend a young girl she just recently met. The contrasting themes and situations in this book make everything stand out and incredibly vivid. I felt like this book had such passion and that Deeringer put a lot of love into it.
Martha Deeringer lives with her husband and their large, extended family on a central Texas cattle ranch. She writes magazine articles, often about history, for children and adults and is a frequent contributor to regional and national magazines.
Martha also writes Young Adult fiction, occasionally inspired by her teaching experiences or the antics of her children and grandchildren. She loves ranch life and sometimes abandons her writing to cope with assorted issues involving kids, dogs, cats, horses, orphan calves, and occasionally armadillos, coyotes and rattlesnakes.
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