*originally published on 08/16/2016
ORPHAN TRAIN Written by Christine Baker Kline
2013; 278 Pages (William Morrow)
Genre: historical fiction, contemporary, history, fiction
BOOK CLUB – AUGUST BOOK
“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.” (From Publisher)
First of all, I am probably in the minority when I say that this was just an okay read. I have heard of orphan trains from my history class in university, so I was really looking forward to this book. Actually, I am the one that suggested it to my book club because I had heard good things. I do want to read more on this subject – whether fiction or nonfiction – in the future. The best moment in the book was when Baker Kline described the orphans and the process they had to go through.
I never really related to Molly as one of the main character so that may have been one of the reasons the book didn’t work for me. I also felt like we never really got to know Vivian – just a moment in her life. We rushed through her teens and early adulthood and got a smidge about her later life. I always felt a little on the outside – as if I was hearing this account third-hand. By 75% I was just reading to finish the book for book club. BUT people love this book so I will leave it up to you, as usual 🙂