Orphan Train: A Novel

Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-10-03
Cute book. Easy read. The ending wraps up in a nice tidy bow
Reviewed: 2017-08-29
Book Description The #1 New York Times Bestseller Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America's past-and it includes a special PS section for book clubs featuring insights, interviews, and more. Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to "aging out" out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse... As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life-answers that will ultimately free them both. Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are. Editorial Reviews From Booklist A long journey from home and the struggle to find it again form the heart of the intertwined stories that make up this moving novel. Foster teen Molly is performing community-service work for elderly widow Vivian, and as they go through Vivian's cluttered attic, they discover that their lives have much in common. When Vivian was a girl, she was taken to a new life on an orphan train. These trains carried children to adoptive families for 75 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the Great Depression. Novelist Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009) brings Vivian's hardscrabble existence in ­Depression-era Minnesota to stunning life. Molly's present-day story in Maine seems to pale in comparison, but as we listen to the two characters talk, we find grace and power in both of these seemingly disparate lives. Although the girls are vulnerable, left to the whims of strangers, they show courage and resourcefulness. Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history, while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women. --Bridget Thoreson Review "One of the most powerful novels I've ever read...I am compelling all of you, even begging you, to make this novel your next read. You'll be talking about it for years to come!" (Naples Daily News (FL)) "A gem." (Huffington Post) "Absorbing...a heartfelt page-turner about two women finding a sense of home...Kline lets us live the characters' experiences vividly through their skin...The growth from instinct to conscious understanding to partnership between the two is the foundation for a moving tale." (Publishers Weekly) "Kline draws a dramatic, emotional story from a neglected corner of American history." (Kirkus Reviews) "A compelling story about loss, adaptability, and courage . . . With compassion and delicacy Kline presents a little-known chapter of American history and draws comparisons with the modern-day foster care system." (Library Journal) "I was so moved by this book. I loved Molly and Vivian, two brave, difficult, true-hearted women who disrupt one another's lives in beautiful ways, and loved journeying with them, through heartbreak and stretches of history I'd never known existed, out of loneliness toward family and home." (Marisa de los Santos, New York Times-bestselling author of Belong to Me and Falling Together) "A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history. Beautiful." (Ann Packer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Swim Back to Me) "In ORPHAN TRAIN, Christina Baker Kline seamlessly knits together the past and present of two women, one young and one old. Kline reminds us that we never really lose anyone or anything or--perhaps most importantly--ourselves." (Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle) "I loved this book: its absorbing back-and-forth story, its vivid history, its eminently loveable characters. ORPHAN TRAIN wrecked my heart and made me glad to be literate." (Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys) "Christina Baker Kline writes exquisitely about two unlikely friends . . . each struggling to transcend a past of isolation and hardship. ORPHAN TRAIN will hold you in its grip as their fascinating tales unfold." (Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times-bestselling author of The Painted Girls) "Christina Baker Kline's latest wonder, ORPHAN TRAIN, makes for compulsive reading...Meticulously researched and yet full of the breath of life, Kline's novel takes us on an historical journey where survival depends upon one's own steely backbone, and the miracle of a large and generous heart." (Helen Schulman, New York Times-bestselling author of This Beautiful Life) "A poignant and memorable story of two steadfast, courageous women...A revelation of the universal yearing for belonging, for family, for acceptance and, ultimately, the journeys we must all make to find them." (Kathleen Kent, New York Times-bestselling author of The Heretic's Daughter and The Traitor's Wife) "Reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout's Amy and Isabel, this Orphan Train carries us along until the stories of these two women become one." (Mary Morris, author of, most recently, Revenge) "This superbly composed novel tells two parallel stories of suffering and perseverance, capturing the heart and mind equally and remaining mesmerizing through the intensely heart-wrenching conclusion." (Romantic Times, Top Pick) "The intertwined stories in this novel will surely please those looking for a compelling new read." (Cleveland Plain Dealer) "One of the most intriguing, tender novels of 2013...This is a warm, satisfying, and inspirational story." (The New Maine Times Book Review)
Reviewed: 2017-01-29
4.5 stars

I enjoyed learning about the real orphan trains through this fictional tale. I hadn't known about this before.

Also some very gut-wrenching moments. I got very sentimental and got excited thinking of how everyone's story is so interconnected and interesting. The suspension of disbelief required to believe some of the stuff at the end, though, is hard. It felt like a very sugar coated story. All that sugar became hard to swallow.
Reviewed: 2016-08-30
When seventeen year old Molly, who has been shuffled around from one foster family after another has to do some community service, she meets 91 year old Vivian who lives alone in a large Victorian house. What could they possibly have in common?

The story doesn't start there though. We learn what both Molly and Vivian have gone through to take them to this point in life. It's Vivian's story that is the most heartbreaking. Poor and hungry in Ireland, her family is sent to America on a ship, only to arrive in New York on such a foggy day, they can't see the promise of this new land.

Vivian's name was Niamh as a child, she was Irish and had such red hair and freckles that there was not much hope for her finding a home with a family in Minnesota when she was placed on the orphan train. So dubbing her Dorothy, Niamh got work as a seamstress at nine years old. When the stock-market fell, her benefactors felt she was too much to feed and called the Children's Aid society.

Dorothy's next placement was much worse. When she is put out on a winter night, Dorothy walks to school and into a much better situation, but this is many years later and the story will tell you how her name was once again changed, this time to Vivian, and how Molly was able to relate to and help Vivian and herself in the process. Great story.
Reviewed: 2016-08-26
In Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline looks to this history to inform the story of two girls’ experience with foster care, eighty years apart. in 1928, Niamh Power, the only surviving daughter of an Irish immigrant family lost in a New York City tenement fire, is delivered to Children’s Aid by neighbors and placed on a train headed west. The train makes several stops along the way, and the children--a diminishing number at each stop--are presented to the locals; some will leave with new families, while others may end up as farm or domestic labor. Niamh is taken in by the Byrnes, a Minnesota couple who give her work in their small clothing business, a mattress on the floor in the hallway, and a new name, Dorothy; the placement ends when the Great Depression starts, and the girl’s luck goes from bad to worse until she ends up with the kindly Nielsens, where her name is changed one more time--to Vivian, after their own lost child. [return][return]MORE: http://www.3rsblog.com/2013/05/she-reads-book-club-orphan-train-christina-baker-kline.html
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