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Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
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Orphan Train (2013)

by Christina Baker Kline

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,8493871,903 (3.99)1 / 219
  1. 41
    Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Another good read showcasing a small bit of American history
  2. 20
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Isolated old ladies benefit by telling their stories to younger women.
  3. 10
    The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (tangledthread)
    tangledthread: Similar story of a young woman aging out of the foster care system.
  4. 11
    My Notorious Life by Kate Manning (Anonymous user)
  5. 12
    Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult (JenniferMCampbell)
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English (376)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (384)
Showing 1-5 of 376 (next | show all)
Wow. I understand now why this book was selected for my book club this month.

Christina Baker Kline makes sure that you feel something for Molly and Vivian. Even though the two women are ages apart, they both understand what it feels like to be unwanted and misunderstood. They know what it's like to be bounced around from home to home with no sense of belonging and no idea how long your stay will last.

The transitions from past to present day was well-done. Vivian had a very difficult childhood full of sadness. Hearing Vivian's story allows Molly to open up about her own past. Molly no longer sees her as an old woman but sees her as a person with a harsh past of her own.

I would strongly recommend this book to everyone, especially book clubs. ( )
  caslater83 | Sep 20, 2018 |
1929 - orphans sent from New York to midwest by train - story of Niamh and the families she ends up with - and Dutchy who she miraculously finds again years later. I enjoyed reading this .. on a train. ( )
  siri51 | Jul 21, 2018 |
This was an enjoyable enough easy read. ( )
  CSKteach | Jul 20, 2018 |
Two different time periods connected by chance...one the story of a young girl, Molly Ayers, soon old enough to be out of the foster care system, and two, Vivian Daly, a young Irish immigrant, who through tragedy becomes one of the thousands of children sent on the orphan train from the East Coast to the Midwest in the early 1900s, hoping not to be victim to harsh servitude.
  HildmanJ | Jul 19, 2018 |
3.5 stars, rounded up reluctantly to 4.

Built around the events in the lives of a woman of 91 and a girl of 17, this book centers on the way abandoned children were treated in the early 1900s. The orphan trains were organized by Christian groups to purportedly get abandoned children in the cities of the eastern US to homes with families in farming communities of the Midwest. The idea might have been to find families, but as even they were well aware, the outcome was often vastly different from that ideal.

The story of Niamh (Vivian) is a much more riveting and interesting story than that of Molly, our modern-day abandoned child. Of course, the earlier era is almost always more interesting than the current one. The weaving together of the two lives makes sense in the context of the story and while the parallels exist, what seemed more striking to me was how much more whining Molly did despite the fact that she was receiving so much better treatment than Niamh ever had. It was starkly obvious to me that even children of the earlier time were made of much stronger stuff. While I like Niamh very much, I found it harder to like Molly. I might have liked the book even better if it had simply followed Niamh's life and left out the sub-plot entirely.

If I had a bone to pick, it would be with the pat ending. It was OK, since it was not dragged on for too long and all the meat of the story had already been told before its intrusion. Sometimes it is difficult for authors to leave their characters with the fruits of the lives they have given them. I think one of the things I love about Hardy is that he is not afraid to leave characters as unhappy and unfulfilled as he finds them. Modern-day sensibilities seem to call for happy endings, but in my estimation Niamh (Vivian) has already lived her life and at 91 what has already occurred is what is truly real. What is missed in life, is missed. We all wish every fragment of our lives would be tied up at the ending, but we must realize this is seldom true. Most of us will pass away with things (perhaps very important things) unsaid.

Ah, but I digress. I am pleased I read this and I would recommend it to anyone who wants an interesting, non-literary read. I am a harsh rater sometimes. I reserve five stars for works I truly find outstanding, so I am often caught between rounding up or down between 3 and 4--this novel could have gone either way for me. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 376 (next | show all)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe that the plot was complicated enough to be intriguing but simple enough to remain understandable and easy to follow. I would recommend this book to a young adult but not to an adult or friend. While reading, I found the story to be mainly one sided, talking and focusing almost entirely on Niamh (Vivien) and it made the other characters feel shallow and not very complex – flat. Overall, I did like the book, especially the historical aspect and events in Niamh’s everyday life and I would definitely recommend to a young adult reader who wanted a strong heroine or who might be a history buff.
added by hannahmariebell | editMSU AdolLit, Hannah Bell (Sep 7, 1993)
 
This book was very good i think. It kept things historically accurate while also an interesting story.
added by m.marie.g | editMSU AdolLit, Michelle Green
 
I enjoyed this book and thought that it did an excellent job with keeping the historical accuracy correct while having an exciting and unpredictable story.
added by m.marie.g | editMSU AdolLit, Michelle Green
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christina Baker Klineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Almasy, JessicaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fröhlich, AnneÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guerrero, JavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jansen, JanineCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kerner, Jamie LynnInterior Designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Metaal, CarolienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sævold, Ann-MagrittOvers.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thieme, Britt-Mariesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toren, SuzanneReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
In portaging from one river to another, Wabanakis had to carry their canoes and all other possessions. Everyone knew the value of traveling light and understood that it required leaving some things behind. Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender.
-Bunny McBride, Women of the Dawn
Dedication
To
Christina Looper Baker,
who handed me the thread,
and Carole Robertson Kline,
who gave me the cloth.
First words
Prologue
I believe in ghosts.
Through her bedroom wall Molly can hear her foster parents talking about her in the living room, just beyond her door.
Quotations
"...you can't find peace until you find all the pieces."
– I learned long ago that loss is not only probable but inevitable. I know what it means to lose everything, to let go of one life and find another. And now I feel, with a strange, deep certainty, that it must be my lot in life to be taught that lesson over and over again.
Her hand flutters to her clavicle, to the silver chain around her neck, the Claddagh charm – those tiny hands clasping a crowned heart: love, loyalty, friendship – a never-ending path that leads away from home and circles back.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"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."--from publisher's description… (more)

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