Historical Fiction Review: 223 Orchard Street

Publisher's Description

"A heartening novel of the immigrant experience—and of redemption, self-sacrifice, and the power of hope when all else seems lost.

Irish immigrant Katie O’Connor and her younger sister, Shannon, risk everything to journey to America at the turn of the twentieth century. As each woman passes into an intimidating, stirring, and unpredictable New York City, she is forced to rethink her dream of a better life. It isn’t until Katie begins serving the sick in the depressed slums of the Bowery alongside Dr. Titus Brentwood that she discovers her true calling. Meanwhile, fate directs the vulnerable Shannon down an unsettling path that could put her life at risk.

As Katie’s and Ty’s selflessness and devotion turn into something deeper, Ty must make a choice that could save one O’Connor sister at the expense of losing the other. But Katie hasn’t come this far to let go now. She’ll do anything to save Shannon and hold on to the man she’s come to love."

My Review

223 Orchard Street, by Renee Ryan, is truly an inspiring piece of historical fiction with settings, characters, and themes that resonate with purpose and meaning. The detailed descriptions of the novel’s integral settings of Ellis Island and New York City draw attention to the hopes that countless immigrants had for a better life. These dreams of prosperity often stood in harsh contrast with the difficult realities faced by the immigrants who made the crowded urban area their home more than a century ago. It is these immigrants who powerfully shine as the characters in this novel. They possess the strength and determination to survive and thrive despite the many physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural challenges they face. Against a backdrop of unmet expectations and broken dreams, the characters persevere to attain forgiveness, acceptance, hope, and love.
 
These characters abound with authenticity and credibility. Their questions, their insecurities, their fears, their needs, and their desires are wholly believable, heart-wrenching, and inspiring. The opportunities, the choices, and the trials that the characters endure are well-developed and enriching. 

The themes of loss, redemption, love, and family that flow purposefully throughout the story fill this book with hope, relevance, and meaning. More than a simple historical narrative, this novel is rich with relevant themes and thought-provoking ideas. It is tender, emotionally stirring, and ultimately uplifting. 

223 Orchard Street is a novel that I will long remember for the lasting impact that it has had on my thoughts and upon my heart. This novel was engaging and meaningful, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. 

My Reflection

This novel stirred my heart as it reflected on the importance of resiliency when life’s trials and burdens become overwhelming. Resiliency is a particularly hard strength to cultivate, as it can only be practiced through adversity and struggle. But with the development and nurturing of resiliency comes the ability to persevere though the most devastating disappointments and unrealized expectations. Within 223 Orchard Street, Ms. Ryan gives life to characters who possess this spirit of resiliency and perseverance. Within the pages of this novel, there is encouragement for those who are facing tough times, and there is inspiration for those in need of courage to press on through difficult challenges. This novel does more than tell a story; it uplifts and offers hope.

About the Author

"Renee Ryan grew up in a Florida beach town where she learned how to surf and skateboard very poorly. As a teenager, she gave up on both pursuits and began entertaining herself during countless hours of "laying-out" by reading all the classics.

After graduating college, with a degree in Economics and Religion, she explored various career opportunities at a Florida theme park and a modeling agency. She moved on to teach high school Economics, American Government and Latin while coaching award-winning cheerleading teams.

Renee now writes for Amazon's Waterfall Press. For further information about Renee, check out www.ReneeRyan.com or go to her Facebook page Renee Ryan. Her Twitter handle is @ReneeRyanBooks. --Biography from Renee Ryan's author page on Amazon.com.

Click here to purchase a copy of this novel for yourself.

*I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. A review was not required. The review I have written contains opinions that are entirely my own. 

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