Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review - Orphan Train

Who knew?  From 1854 to 1929 trains ran from the East Coast to the Midwest with orphan kids. They were sent out to be adopted by farming families. In theory it was the “Christian” thing to do. But stories vary  - some kids were chosen by kind folks and others were adopted to be “slaves”.  The author, Christina Baker Kline, of Orphan Train did research and created her story from her discoveries.  This is an excellent read. Well written and thought provoking, I was very interested in her characters and tale.

In current times, a high school student in  trouble, Molly, needs a community service project. She is paired with an elderly widow, Vivian, to help clean out her attic.  In sorting out keepsakes, a story comes to life. Vivian, as she’s known now, was an Irish immigrant to New York City and was ultimately sent on the orphan train to a new home. Her red hair and age made her undesirable and she survived several horrible transitions before finally being adopted by a nice storekeeper. Now she lives in Maine in a lovely home, seemingly from money.

Molly is a Penobscot Indian who’s been in and out of foster homes. She assumes Vivian was born to wealth. There are a lot of assumptions and the truth in this small Maine town is discovered by both Vivian and Molly.  I liked the give and take in this book.  Each chapter opens more doors into Vivian’s story and Molly’s realization.  The lesson to be learned is the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”.  Molly and Vivian gain strength from each other and you root for them both for a satisfying ending.


Orphan Train is truly a decent  read passed on from a friend.  Big thumbs up

19 comments:

  1. Rooting for the characters is sure a writing win indeed

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  2. I read this a few years back and did enjoy it.

    Betty

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  3. That was so interesting to read, I had not heard about that before, so that's something new I learned today.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Author did her research. Well done

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  4. Hi Joanne - as you say Baker Kline did her research ... and it seems logical (definitely sadly) that this is what happened ... we had it during both Wars ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  5. I just bought this book. Glad to know I'm going to enjoy it. Thanks!

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  6. This sounds like a fascinating story. I didn't know about orphan trains. How terrifying it must have been to be one of the children on those trains, not knowing where they would end up and who would be their new family.

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    1. Tough times and tough kids. Immigrants did not have it easy then or now

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  7. I did love this book. It was heartbreaking in places, though.

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    1. I agree. Made me think about survival and family

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  8. I just put this on my amazon wish list. Sounds like a great read.

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  9. I'm glad to learn about this book. Orphan Trains played a prominent (and generally horrid) role in child welfare history, and I didn't even learn about them until I began working as a social worker. Thank you Joanne!

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    1. So many sad tales from back in the day

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  10. I've heard of Orphan Trains, but never realized it was such a wide-spread, longstanding activity.

    The book sounds fascinating. :-)

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