Cover image for Rory's promise
Rory's promise
MacColl, Michaela.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Honesdale, PA : Calkins Creek Books, 2014.
Physical Description:
288 pages ; 22 cm.
Twelve-year-old Rory Fitzpatrick loves her younger sister, Violet, more than anyone in the world. She has been Violet's only family ever since their parents died and they went to live at the Sisters of Charity Foundling Hospital in New York. Rory promised she would always protect her sister, would never leave her. So when Rory learns that the nuns are sending Violet to an adoptive family out West, Rory is determined to follow and keep her family together at all costs. What happens on the journey west proves just how brave and strong Rory Fitzpatrick is.
Reading Level:
630 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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Twelve-year-old orphan Rory Fitzpatrick lives with her younger sister Violet at New York City's Foundling Hospital in the early 1900s. But when Rory discovers that Violet will be sent to the Arizona Territory to be adopted, her world is shattered. Although too old to be adopted herself, Rory--brave and smart--is determined to stay with her sister, even if it means hiding out on a train traveling west. When Rory and Violet arrive in Arizona, everything that could go wrong doesgo wrong. Will Rory give up? This uplifting novel about the power of faith and the true meaning of family launches the Hidden Histories series, spotlighting little-known tales from America's past, and the children behind those stories. Includes authors' note and further resources.

Author Notes

Michaela MacColl has published several historical fiction novels. Prisoners in the Palace received a starred review from School Library Journal and was selected as an Indie Next Choice. Promise the Night received starred r

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

MacColl and Nichols team up for the first title in the new Hidden Histories series, which spotlights lesser-known historical moments. Twelve-year-old Rory Fitzpatrick's life at New York City's Foundling Hospital is upended when her younger sister, Violet, is set to be adopted in Clifton, a town in the Arizona Territory. Unbeknownst to the nuns in charge, Rory sneaks onto an orphan train to stick with her sister. Upon arrival in the mining town, they are thrust into an ongoing disagreement between the wealthier Anglo women and their intended adoptive parents, Mexican Catholics. Though the pace sometimes slows thanks to the dry narrative style, intrepid Rory is a likable protagonist with determination and heart, all of which will endear her to readers. Multifaceted adult characters drawn from history, especially Sister Anna, bring to life the complex dynamics in Clifton at the turn of the last century. Extensive back matter provides further historical context and lesson tie-ins. Pair with Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train (2013) for an even more comprehensive look at this part of American history.--Barnes, Jennifer Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Inspired by historical events in the early 1900s, MacColl (Nobody's Secret) and debut author Nichols launch the Hidden Histories series with the gripping story of 12-year-old Rory Fitzpatrick and her determination to stay with her younger sister, Violet. Ever since their parents died three years earlier, the girls have lived in New York City's Foundling Hospital, where Rory assists the nuns in caring for the children there. In order to make room for new arrivals, Violet and other young ones are being sent to a town in Arizona Territory, where Catholic families will adopt them. Strong-willed and brash, Rory sneaks onto the orphan train and talks her way into meeting Violet's new family. When Rory arrives in the town of Clifton, there's no gas or electricity, frequent flooding, and a violent rift between the "Mexicanos," who have arranged to adopt the children, and the "Anglos," who dislike the idea of white children being adopted by Hispanic families, and aim to steal the children away. Endearing (and enduring) relationships and a suspenseful plot make for an exciting and at times wrenching voyage into America's past. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Twelve-year-old Rory Fitzpatrick, a feisty red-haired orphan, helps care for the youngest children at the Foundling Hospital in New York where she lives with her younger sister, Violet. When Rory finds out that about 50 of the youngest orphans, including Violet, will be sent by train to "good Catholic homes" in the West, she secretly vows to accompany them, making a promise to Violet that they will always stay together. Despite the firm and loving guidance of head nun Sister Anna, Rory stows away on the train leaving behind the safety and comforts of the orphanage, (running water, hot meals). When she's finally discovered, the overwhelmed nuns let her stay on and assist with the journey. Fairly predictable up to this point, the story takes a dramatic and unexpected turn when the train arrives in the isolated mining town of Clifton, in the territory of Arizona. The only adoption location not to be pre-vetted in person because of distance, Clifton is inhospitable from the start. Smoke and fumes from the mining operations fill the sky and a menacing mob of women meets the train. Issues of racial violence and environmental illness have deeply divided the town. Most of the women are unable to bear children so when the predominantly white orphans arrive intended for Catholic (Mexican) families, the Caucasian families demand justice on moral grounds-and kidnap the children. Rory is caught in a desperate situation as she struggles to keep herself and Violet safe. Readers will enjoy the fast-paced action and likable main character. Based on a true story and an actual event that took place in 1904, this is a historical novel with a unique topic and plenty of substance, making it especially suitable for class or group discussions.- Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.