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Walls for the Wind

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  27 ratings  ·  14 reviews
2015 LARAMIE AWARDS 1st Place Prairie Fiction winner
2015 WILL ROGERS MEDALLION gold level winner
Can an angel survive Hell on Wheels? Kit Calhoun leaves New York City with a train car full of foundlings from the Immigrant Children’s Home. Her assignment is to sever ties, so she has no idea of the tan
Kindle Edition, 2, 216 pages
Published August 3rd 2016 (first published April 1st 2014)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  27 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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SA Krishnan
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Engaging story

Set in a post civil war era, in the 1860s, the story brings the harsh realities of the orphanages and tenements and the plight of the children there.
The story was powerful and engaging and brought to light many unknown facts about the past in the civil war era.
Sandra Nachlinger
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read the description of WALLS FOR THE WIND and discovered the book took place in the time after the Civil War, plus it started in New York City, continued to Wyoming, and included Orphan Trains, I knew I had to read it.
Alethea Williams did a great job of describing the harsh conditions that immigrants and the orphans of immigrants endured in the slums of New York City during this era. No wonder so many of them decided to head west! I also came to understand why Orphan Trains were seen a
Pam Mooney
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderfully written story with endearing characters and lots of heart. I enjoyed that Williams captures the harshness of the time while still preserving the underlying story that each individual has to offer. It was nice that this book gives context to the historical events that we learn in history books - these were real people just trying to survive. Certainly an author to follow and a good read.
Cathy Brockman
Walls for the wind is a lovely, poignant story. Kit is an orphan raised in a children’s Asylum, that after reaching 18 went to school and felt called to came back to work with the reverend who is like a father to her. As his assistant and working for food and board she soon finds that she wants more of her life, a husband and children of her own. Circumstances land her on an orphan train west to place a load of older children in homes to work and learn to farm in exchange for food, clothing and ...more
Andrea Downing
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Katherine Calhoun is given the job of placing orphans from the institution where she, herself, was raised, into God-fearing homes out west, she is somewhat hesitant at leaving New York and her beloved mentor, Reverend Howe. But Katherine, or Kit as she is called, has had duty drummed into her, along with a strong sense of morality and a hatred of lasciviousness and strong liquor. Heading west with a bunch of children may not be right up her proverbial alley, but she accepts the job despite ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’ve seen Hell on Wheels, you’ll recognize many of the places mentioned in this story. Although it’s not as gritty and bloodthirsty as that series, Walls of the Wind still evokes the lawlessness and temporary nature of the lives of the people attached to building the railroad as well as the hardships under which they lived. Kit’s straitlaced nature is balanced by Patrick’s easy-going attitude. He sees nothing wrong with running a saloon, as long as the men patronizing it obey the rules. Ki ...more
Lydia Granda
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Walls for the Wind is a vivid account of the orphan trains and a harsh time in our past. It takes the reader from the stench of the New York tenements to the mud and slush in the West of Cheyenne Wyoming. You dive into this book with Kit, our main character and the four children she takes out west to find homes for these orphans. Althea Williams vividly details an account of an unhappy time when the children of immigrants in this book are the subjects of abuse and neglect. It's a rich story of a ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Received Walls For The Wind by Alethea Williams free for a honest review . (Good reads win)
Not sure what the title means but the book was easy to read and the characters were developed nicely so that the book flowed. The ending held no surprises but did have finality to it which lately seems to be lacking in so many books.
I enjoyed the little snippets of historical facts concerning the time period where rail roads and settlers were heading West to start new lives and the fact that Williams was
Kathleen Denly
Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of historical fiction
Recommended to Kathleen by: Jan Romes via Twitter
For my full review, you can visit my blog at

The Bullet Points:

* Skip the prologue and start with Chapter 1
* Not all the characters fully met my expectations but they still engaged my emotions, which is what I really want from them anyway.
* The ending isn’t perfect, but it still satisfies and I’m glad to have read it.
* The book stands out in its willingness to vividly tackle sensitive and controversial subjects.
* The historical aspects are presented with authority and feel
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: frontier-fiction
Alethea Williams’ orphan train novel steers a course between history and romance, while telling a story that explores the subject of gender in the frontier West.

Her central character, Kit Calhoun, is true to stereotype in ways driven in part by the genre and more interestingly by the social expectations of the time. She lacks agency, by being not just female but reared without family in a children’s asylum in New York. There she is the assistant to the asylum’s director, rescuing homeless immigr
Steve Bender
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I got Walls for the Wind by A;lethea Williams as a Goodreads Giveaway. It was a terrific story about the immigrant orphans in New York City just after the Civil War and how the problem was treated by various civic groups. In this story a former orphan grows up to help a religious group that is trying to help them and then follows her story as she ends up taking orphans west to be "placed". She eventually ends up adopting 4 of the orphans and follows her as she goes west to rails end with them. L ...more
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A copy received from Reading Addiction Virtual Tour for an honest review

four stars

This was my first time reading Alethea Williams and what a treat! I loved this story! This book was all heart and soul! The author captured both my imagination and my heart with her main character Kit Calhoun. Kit was a fantastic character. She grew up in a children's asylum and has many demons to battle. I loved reading about this character and this time period. This is a fantastic book! I highly recommend it and
P.S. Winn
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful novel that delves into the past. meet hit Calhoun who is no stranger to hard work and the struggles of life. As she brings children west for a new life Kit fins you can't always leave a hard life behind, but she also finds a few magical moments and special people as she tries to start over not just for herself but for the children. Althea Williams tells a wonderfully poignant story. this is the second book I have read by this author and I admit I am a fan! ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: haveread
I liked the setting for the story. But this didn't strike me as a well-written book. ...more
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Apr 28, 2014 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
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Alethea Williams grew up in southwest Wyoming. Willow Vale is her first novel of the immigrant experience, dealing with the Tyroleans after WWI. Willow Vale won a 2012 Wyoming State Historical Society Publications Award. Her second novel details the Irish immigrant experience and the Orphan Train movement in Walls for the Wind. Walls for the Wind is a WILLA Literary Award finalist, a gold Will Rog ...more

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