Monday, July 22, 2013

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers 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.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, 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 second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

About The Author: 


Christina Baker Kline, the author of five novels, grew up in Maine, England, and the American South. She is married to a Midwesterner whose family history inspired her new novel, Orphan Train (April). Set in present-day Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train highlights the real-life story of the trains that between 1854 and 1929 carried more than 200,000 abandoned children from the East Coast to the Midwest. Kline imagines the journey of one such child, Vivian Daly, an Irish immigrant whose fate is determined by luck and chance. Orphan Train is the story of an unlikely friendship between 91-year-old Vivian Daly, whose experiences are far behind her, and Molly Ayer, a 17-year-old Penobscot Indian girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever asked. 

My Review: 

I just finish this book, it sure has a lot of heart tugging life happenings. There is a parallel between two lives, one near the end in her nineties and the other aging out of the system at seventeen. Life and circumstance bring them together.
The older lady was an immigrant from Ireland, she ends up loosing her family, and ends up on the Orphan Train. I enjoy reading stories about this period in this country. I am sure the children were frightened, heading to the unknown. Some loosing their parents, and now heading to loving homes?? Some were abused, and exploited.
This story also tells of modern times child placement services, and comparisons with the orphan train. We also with the help of modern time conveniences help the elderly orphan train survivor find some information for closure. This is an in depth look at her life.
I found myself pulled into this story, and kept hoping for the best. At times things looked better, but she sure had a very hard life. Loved that we were able to find out about some of the other children on the train and what happened to them.
In the end I really wanted more answers, what happened to the modern day orphan?? I know how I wanted it to end, and so I guess it will end that way for me. All in all this became a very quick and enjoyable read.

I received this book from the edelweiss above the tree line Program, and was not required to give a positive review.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, loved Orphan Train, as did my mother-in-law. A fascinating account of a little-reported chapter in our country's history regarding child welfare.