The Heart’s Lonely Secret By Jane Peart

This book is part of an Orphan Train series. While recommended for teen readers, it is a great book for adults too. It is well written and was hard for me to put town. A beautiful story with a strong lesson.
The setting is 1887. Ivy Austin’s father dies suddenly in the line of duty as a firefighter. Not long after her mother dies and she is sent to the Greystone orphanage. She hates the drabness, severe discipline, and lack of affection. One day she is called into the matron’s office and finds she is to be adopted by Mr. Tarantino. Dark, sulking, harsh, and angry, he is nothing like the father she had hoped for. She quickly finds out his only purpose in adopting her was to replace trick horse riders in his circus that had quit. Tragedy strikes and the circus family she thought loved her, moves on, leaving her behind.
Ivy finds herself on an orphan train and becomes friend with a girl a few years younger than her. Allison was shy, soft spoken, and sweet. On the last stop, Ivy convinces Allison to trade dresses with her. She knew Allison pretty and would be chosen no matter what she wore. Unbeknownst to the girls, Allison was already promised to the Mayor and his wife. Weary from the long journey, the children’s chaperon only remembered the dress and pushed Ivy forward in Allison’s place.
It was a dream come true for Ivy, wealth, prestige, and beautiful parents. Guilt riddled her and she wondered how Allison’s new home was. She meets her at school and finds she has been adopted by an older spinster with meager financial means. The woman loves her very much and Allison is happy.
The two remain best friends as they grow up and become adults. Her conscience continues to bother her, especially with great discrepancy between her privileged life and Allison’s simple one. As their life plays out she finds that wealth and positon do not guarantee a happy life. She knows someday she must find the courage to share her ugly secret with. It was a story that touched me and I know I will read again.
The publication date is 1994, but copies are easily found online.

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