“My Heart Remembers”
“Take care o’ the wee ones. Don’t let them o’ yer sight. D’ya hear me, lass?” Those were the last words 8 year old Maelle Gallagher heard from her Da as he pushed her and her two younger siblings out the door, away from the raging fire, to the safety of the street. Their father and mother perished as their entire tenement burned to the ground…their only family, GONE. Maelle, her brother Mattie and baby sister, Molly are put in the care of the New York City orphanage where, before long, these three young Irish immigrants are selected for relocation. They unwittingly become 3 of the estimated 200,000 homeless youngsters who travelled west on an orphan train in search of new families that might want to adopt them. Unfortunately, they’re torn apart, each going different ways with different families. Maelle heads off with a traveling photographer as his assistant; Mattie is taken by a rancher as a child laborer and baby Molly is taken by a wealthy couple. Maelle, broken, vows to find each of them as her job with the photographer will afford her the opportunity to visit many places. Sadly, she’s unsuccessful in her search. Seventeen years pass with no contact among the siblings or knowledge of each other’s whereabouts. Then, as fate would allow, all three begin their own unexpected journey to Missouri…and unknowingly, towards each other.
Kim Vogel Sawyer, the book’s author, covers a lot of ground in “My Heart Remembers”…immigration, Ellis Island, crowded tenements on the lower east side of New York City, sweat shops, child labor, orphan homes, orphan trains, early photography and faith. Against this backdrop, she beautifully and heartfully relates the story of three siblings, separated by tragedy and united by a common cause. It’s a book filled with heartbreak, determination, kindness of strangers, forgiveness, getting past selfishness and…most of all…overcoming adversity. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be the last! “My Heart Remembers” will leave you with a smile on your face and…perhaps…a few tears in your eyes.