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Orphan Train (2013)

by Christina Baker Kline

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,1394551,615 (3.98)1 / 266
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.… (more)
  1. 41
    Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Another good read showcasing a small bit of American history
  2. 30
    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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 2016 Summer Adol Lit: Orphan Train1 unread / 1Kathryn_Lovell, June 2016

» See also 266 mentions

English (447)  Spanish (3)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (455)
Showing 1-5 of 447 (next | show all)
KIRKUS REVIEWO?Connor (Will My Name Be Shouted Out?, 1996) crafts a vibrant, wide-ranging narrative of Charles Loring Brace?s child-welfare movement, which had a profound influence on America?s treatment of disadvantaged youth.Born in 1826 and raised in a staunchly religious New England household, Brace was seemingly made to serve his fellow human beings¥specifically the homeless children of New York City. He founded the Children?s Aid Society in 1853, and one year later the first load of street kids hoping for job training and perhaps new families steamed toward Dowagiac, Michigan. They were never called ?orphan trains? during Brace?s lifetime; he referred to his practice of sending children to the country to be indentured or (in the best cases) adopted as ?placing out.? In marvelously evocative and eminently readable prose, O?Connor relates an all-American story of explosive urban growth, of families destroyed by a nascent capitalism, of the West?s myths and promises. First-hand accounts from some of the 250,000 orphans who rode the trains between 1854 and 1929 provide a window into this era, and much space is dedicated to the movement?s most stunning successes and failuresÂ¥from John Brady (who became governor of Alaska) to Charley Miller (who was hanged for a double murder). O?Connor balances these stories with a well-constructed chronicle of the ups and downs of the Children?s Aid Society. He also delineates changing perceptions about disadvantaged children that eventually led much of the nation to dismiss Brace as a figurehead for outmoded philosophies. O'Connor?s meticulous research studs the narrative with many marvelous details, from a description of Frederick Law Olmsted?s Staten Island farm to the atmosphere of Brace?s Newsboy?s Lodging House.Extremely engaging history.Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2001ISBN: 0-395-84173-9Page count: 384ppPublisher: Houghton MifflinReview Posted Online: May 20th, 2010Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001
  bentstoker | Jan 26, 2024 |
I give it a four because it successfully tugged at my heart, though I felt like Molly's story was sort of tacked on as a storytelling device that wasn't really necessary. Vivian's story was really enough on its own. ( )
  nogomu | Oct 19, 2023 |
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a beautiful novel following the lives of two girls who have become orphans.

Molly Ayer is almost eighteen and is living through the child welfare system. It's not easy and she hasn't had the best of lives, but she's doing alright. She finds herself in a bit of trouble when she steals a library book which leads her to having to complete community service. Somehow, she begins helping a lovely 91-year-old woman named Vivian clean her house and the two form a beautiful but very unexpected friendship.

Or other timeline follows a young Irish immigrant girl who was orphaned in New York City. She traveled on the Orphan Train that took young orphans to random destinations to be adopted. Her life was tough but she managed to turn out alright...

These two stories intertwine and show the power of women, the persistence and strength of children, and a life full of second chances.

This book pulled at my heartstrings and almost made me weep! It's so beautifully written, so wonderfully engaging, and just an all around amazing read. It made me sad but by the end it warmed my heart up so much. I'm so happy I read this book because it truly opened my eyes to something I didn't know ever happened - Orphan Trains. While the story itself is not true, it is based on historical facts. Orphans did get put on trains and travelled across America to find their "forever" (or not so forever...) homes. The orphans weren't all treated fairly and life was tough. My heart aches knowing this was the lives of many people... and hopefully we are doing better. I truly hope we are.

I highly recommend this book for contemporary fiction lovers or someone who loves a good theme in their books. It's marvelous!

Five out of five stars. ( )
  Briars_Reviews | Aug 28, 2023 |
I was at first disappointed with the layout of this story. It was not at all what I was expecting, but it grew on me and about midway through I got rid of the chip on my shoulder and really began to enjoy the story. It bounces back and forth between present-day (2011) Molly, a gothic troubled 17-year-old in foster care, and the memories of a 91-year-old woman named Vivian, who was an orphan on the train back in 1929 when she was very young. Set in fictitious Spruce Harbor, Maine, Molly and Vivian find they have a lot in common and develop a lasting friendship and help each other through some pain while Molly cleans and organizes Vivian’s attic as part of her 50 hours of community service work for stealing a library book. I would definitely recommend this book because it is a very good story, but don’t expect a raw and deep story of the plight of the kids "on an orphan train". ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
Really enjoyed the historical part of this book. Some MAJOR decisions/actions didn't seem to follow the characterizations portrayed. Won't be more specific to avoid spoilers. ( )
  tackyj | Aug 3, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 447 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christina Baker Klineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Almasy, JessicaNarratorsecondary 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, SuzanneNarratorsecondary 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.

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Book description
Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, and unexpected friendship.

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?

As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.
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