Orphan Train
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.

Orphan Train Details

TitleOrphan Train
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 2nd, 2013
PublisherWilliam Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN0061950726
ISBN-139780061950728
Number of pages278 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Book Club

Orphan Train Review

  • Rachel
    April 18, 2013
    As a Midwesterner, I was really interested in this book after hearing it featured on NPR. However, it was ruined by a small, and to some, insignificant character and narrative. The main narrative about Vivian, an Orphan Train rider, was excellent. The second narrative of Molly, a teen foster child, is marred by the way the author, Christina Baker Kline, portrays her oppressive foster mom. "...Dina listens to conservative talk radio, belongs to a fundamentalist Christian church, and has a "Guns d As a Midwesterner, I was really interested in this book after hearing it featured on NPR. However, it was ruined by a small, and to some, insignificant character and narrative. The main narrative about Vivian, an Orphan Train rider, was excellent. The second narrative of Molly, a teen foster child, is marred by the way the author, Christina Baker Kline, portrays her oppressive foster mom. "...Dina listens to conservative talk radio, belongs to a fundamentalist Christian church, and has a "Guns don't kill people--abortion clinics do" bumper sticker on her car...Dina is constantly rolling her eyes, muttering under her breath about Molly's various infractions--didn't put away her laundry...all of which are part and parcel of the liberal agenda that's ruining this country..." (Page 48). "Dina says, 'Oh, how the mighty have fallen...It's sad what happens to people, y'know?...Terry Gallant used to be Miss Popular. Homecoming Queen and all that. That she got knocked up by some Mexican scrub--and now look at her, she's a maid.'" (Page 130).These are just a few examples of the egregious stereotypes Baker Kline embodies in one character. It's the most shallow character I've encountered in a long time, and, as an English teacher, I read mostly Young Adult novels. This could've been such a highly esteemed literary novel if she hadn't let her personal agenda abound in this minor character and second narrative. A character analysis of the foster mom is incredibly simple to sketch: white, Christian, conservative, meat-eating-vegetarian hater, petty, shallow, ungrateful, judgmental, racist. She's especially easy to hate because Molly, her foster daughter, is so easy to sympathize with. It seems awfully judgmental and petty given one of the themes is not to pass judgment so quickly. Obviously, Baker Kline has her own judgments she couldn't leave out of this novel. I'm so tired of the judgmental subtlety authors creep into otherwise great works. Baker Kline, your agenda did not go unnoticed, and I will not be recommending this book. You took a powerful literary and historical narrative and choked it with a judgmental and shallow second narrative of your own agenda.i
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  • Emily May
    December 21, 2013
    "In my nightmares I am alone on a train, heading into the wilderness. Or in a maze of hay bales. Or walking the streets of a big city, gazing at lights in every window, seeing the families inside, none of them mine." After my book club chose Orphan Train for our next meet-up, I picked up my copy and started reading just a little of the first page to get a "feel" for what the book would be like. I didn't intend to finish it right now, or even read any more than the first page, but I somehow ende "In my nightmares I am alone on a train, heading into the wilderness. Or in a maze of hay bales. Or walking the streets of a big city, gazing at lights in every window, seeing the families inside, none of them mine." After my book club chose Orphan Train for our next meet-up, I picked up my copy and started reading just a little of the first page to get a "feel" for what the book would be like. I didn't intend to finish it right now, or even read any more than the first page, but I somehow ended up getting completely sucked into this story for the last few hours.Firstly, it is a page turner. The pages just flew past as I devoured this story about two very different women who find they have a lot more in common than they could have imagined. It switches between the present day (2011) and the 1920s/30s, and it manages to be horrifying enough to hook you, but ultimately uplifting and charming.The best kind of historical fiction, in my opinion, is that which introduces you to little pieces of history you'd never known about. I knew that many Irish immigrants arrived in the United States in the 1920s, hoping for a fresh start and a better life, but often received a less than warm welcome. What I didn't know, is that many orphaned children from crowded Eastern cities were boarded onto trains and taken to rural areas of the Midwest.Families looking for servants, farm labourers, or occasionally more children would come check out the orphans and see if they wanted to take them home. In this book, Vivian is an orphaned Irish immigrant at just nine years old, and she finds herself on one of the orphan trains. The 1920s/30s part of this book tells the story of her life, being moved from one family to the next in Minnesota. In the present, she is a 91 year-old woman with an attic full of painful memories.So what could she possibly have in common with a bratty teenage goth girl? Well, quite a bit actually.Molly is in the foster care system and knows her current family only keep her for the extra money they receive. She rebels constantly: with her image, with her attitude and, finally, by stealing a book from the local library and earning herself some community service. That community service turns out to be helping an old lady clear out her attic.As Vivian's story is revealed, the relationship between the two of them grows. I admit that I felt so much more sympathy for Vivian, though I did understand the importance of Molly's story too. Vivian deals with being constantly unwanted, being underfed, living in a farmhouse without any heating through the winter, and the leery eyes of her foster father. I felt sorry for Molly at times, but she was bratty and not easy to like, though I still quite enjoyed the insight into her mind. Like this: "But it kind of feels nice to nurture her resentment, to foster it. It’s something she can savor and control, this feeling of having been wronged by the world." I do think that things felt a little rushed toward the end. A lot seemed to happen in a short space of time, presumably because the main story had already been told and the author was just tying up loose ends. But, overall, that didn't bother me much. I really enjoyed this book; both the emotional journey and the history lesson. And I have to say, in a world that loves sword-wielding heroines no older than 21 and pretty-faced broody boys, it’s refreshing to see such an interesting and fleshed out elderly character.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Store
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  • Marla Mutch
    April 20, 2013
    When I was 16 my Great Aunt Pauline told me the saddest true story. I asked her about her background, she was of Polish decent in a completely German town in Washington State. She told me that when her family came over from Poland her mother had pink eye, and was sent back to Poland to try again. She was pregnant and when she got back, she had a child that was not listed on the papers. She put the baby in a suitcase to keep the officials at Ellis Island from finding her and separating her again. When I was 16 my Great Aunt Pauline told me the saddest true story. I asked her about her background, she was of Polish decent in a completely German town in Washington State. She told me that when her family came over from Poland her mother had pink eye, and was sent back to Poland to try again. She was pregnant and when she got back, she had a child that was not listed on the papers. She put the baby in a suitcase to keep the officials at Ellis Island from finding her and separating her again. That baby was Pauline. They went out west, and her mother died several years later in child birth. Pauline remembered being set out on the porch with her younger siblings, the babies in a laundry basket, and her father standing on the porch as people came by to pick out who they wanted. She was older and chosen last and by a couple with a different language and moved to this area she ended up in. She said, "They picked us out as if we were puppies in a basket. I am not a puppy in a basket." I am crying just remembering the pain in her voice when she told me this. She told me she didn't see any of her siblings until she was an adult, and that the couple trained her in how to be a good worker. What a childhood for one of the sweetest women I ever knew. I wish I had recorded her story, asked more questions, there is never enough time. This book told a similar tale, and I could not put it down. It rang so true. Read it!
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  • Jennifer
    November 20, 2013
    Before I became a foster/adoptive parent, I would have ranked this book much higher. But it rankled that yet another novel characterizes a foster mom as racist, shrill, emotionally abusive, and selfish. Oh, and the foster parents are just in it for the money. And of course Molly is just misunderstood, with no serious behavioral problems or alienating qualities. Except for a nose ring (gasp!), and a tendency to steal high-brow literature (oh my!). And of course, everyone ends up happy and joyful Before I became a foster/adoptive parent, I would have ranked this book much higher. But it rankled that yet another novel characterizes a foster mom as racist, shrill, emotionally abusive, and selfish. Oh, and the foster parents are just in it for the money. And of course Molly is just misunderstood, with no serious behavioral problems or alienating qualities. Except for a nose ring (gasp!), and a tendency to steal high-brow literature (oh my!). And of course, everyone ends up happy and joyful on the final page--with the message that all the trauma and strife was a necessary part of the story, required to bring them to this place of understanding. Yuck--oversimplified and naive. Edited to add: many people in the comments have told me, in no uncertain terms, to get over it. That the foster care system is horrible, that the book is from Molly's perspective, that I'm extrapolating. And maybe I am particularly sensitive about the foster mom. However, I stand by my initial opinion that the characters are flat, over-simplified tropes. The foster mom is horrible. The foster dad is weak. The foster girl is just misunderstood. The old rich lady is the perfect savior. While I enjoyed the historical story about the orphan train (which is why I didn't give it 1 star), the modern day counterpart seemed like it was slapped on at the last minute, using every available stereotype to awkward and absurd effect. TL;DR: The modern day half of the story is poorly written.
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  • Diane Yannick
    November 29, 2013
    I find the orphan trains to be an interesting/horrifying time in our history. I thought this book would give me a deeper understanding of what it was like to be a child enslaved by this plan concocted by the Children's Aid Society. Instead, I found this to be a fluffy, shallow story chock full of huge stereotypes. Let's see, we have the sexually perverted foster dad, the Goth girl, the upstanding drafted man, the 91 year old lady who hoarded her life in the attic. Each character was painted with I find the orphan trains to be an interesting/horrifying time in our history. I thought this book would give me a deeper understanding of what it was like to be a child enslaved by this plan concocted by the Children's Aid Society. Instead, I found this to be a fluffy, shallow story chock full of huge stereotypes. Let's see, we have the sexually perverted foster dad, the Goth girl, the upstanding drafted man, the 91 year old lady who hoarded her life in the attic. Each character was painted with broad strokes that created no space for this reader to wonder or develop compassion. The two narratives did not work for me at all. Although it was very easy to keep the stories straight, neither story was compelling. Both story lines were painfully predictable. The events which allowed the plot to plod along were often ridiculous. Molly (modern day character) had to do 50 hours of community service for stealing a battered copy of Jane Eyre from the library?? That's how she met Vivian who needed her attic cleaned out? That's how the stories eventually merged? All of the characters' personal epiphanies seemed forced. Vivian reflects that "the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles." Overwrought, in my opinion.Another author to cross off my list. However, she has plenty of fans who will continue to absorb her words right through their soles.
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  • B the BookAddict
    November 13, 2013
    The real truth behind this wonderful story is actually quite awful in magnitude. Between 1854 and 1929, more than 200,00 homeless, orphaned or abandoned children were sent to the Midwest: ostensibly for adoption but often more became indentured servitude, to people who wanted a worker rather than a child. It is a little known fact of America's history and one I knew nothing about. I love it when an author sends me hurrying to Google in order to learn more about certain facts I've learned from t The real truth behind this wonderful story is actually quite awful in magnitude. Between 1854 and 1929, more than 200,00 homeless, orphaned or abandoned children were sent to the Midwest: ostensibly for adoption but often more became indentured servitude, to people who wanted a worker rather than a child. It is a little known fact of America's history and one I knew nothing about. I love it when an author sends me hurrying to Google in order to learn more about certain facts I've learned from their books. Christina Baker Kline has definitely achieved that here: how could I possibly finish the novel and not need to know more about these orphan trains. Kline very courteously relays many other facts and her sources in the Acknowledgements including photographs; the little bootblack of New York 1924 particularly brought tears to my eyes. I finished the book at midnight and spent another two hours on the internet searching and reading information on the orphan trains. My thoughts: In child welfare, we should never rest on the laurels of our success stories, we should chastise ourselves for our failures. Molly and Vivian have both been failed by the system. A very unlikely friendship arises out of a need. In 2011, 17yo Molly needs to do fifty hours community service and 91yo Vivian need someone to help organise her attic. As they sort through the attic, Molly begins taping the story of Vivian's portage (what she carried with her) for a school assignment. Different items signify certain people and events in Vivian's long and interesting life. 1927 begins the 7yo Vivian's story; her family has been helped obtain a passage from Ireland to America but New York is no pot of gold and the family struggles; in 1929, there's a fire and Vivian loses the family she loves. Taken to a Children's Aid Society orphanage, she soon finds herself boarded on an orphan train bound for Minnesota where prospective 'parents' will choose a child they want. After two less than advantageous placements, Vivian's luck changes and a happy life finally begins for her. But, as Molly will learn, it is still not all plain sailing for Vivian. Penobscot Indian Molly's story begins in 2011: a father deceased, mother a drug addict, she's been in more foster homes than you can poke a stick at, countless schools where she never fits in and she's developed a tough Goth exterior in order to survive. A theft sees her with the choice of either juvie or community service. She meets Vivian through her boyfriend and this very unlikely friendship follows. As Molly discovers, she and Vivian have more in common than she would have ever thought and they can both provide something very special for each other. People need to tell their stories; it is often a matter of waiting for the right audience.The Children's Aid Society, to me, is a misnomer; I wonder how many of these children actually had advantageous placements. The Society may have had the best of intentions but the children may have lost more than they gained in this venture. Prospective parents checked their eyes, limbs, inside their mouths; sounds more like they are inspecting cattle rather than children. Although Kline does acknowledge that in talking to and reading oral histories of these orphans: “they tended not to dwell on the considerable hardships.....they focused on how grateful they were for their children etc - lives that would have not been possible if they had not been on those trains.” That is comforting to hear.Kline alternately weaves two not dissimilar stories together very competently. She is not overly emotive in language, rather leaving the story itself to draw the emotion from you. And, dare I say, it would be only a very cold person who is not affected by this story. Strangely, considering the subject, it is not a depressing novel; moreover, it's about tenacity, it is about people hanging on to hope when hope is the only thing they have left, it is one of inspiring and lasting friendships. Kline is brilliant in that she doesn't just tell a story sourced from historical fact; she provides you with the fact in her eight pages of not in the least bit boring Acknowledgements complete with photographs. I commend her for bringing history to our notice. You know, the elderly have the most wonderful stories to tell, if only we would take the time to listen. This is a novel I would not hesitate to recommend to all readers. 4★
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  • Jules
    September 17, 2013
    I was going to say this book reads like a YA novel, but then I realized that is an insult to some really well-written YA novels (The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, Flowers for Algernon...) Like many other readers, I thought the book had potential with a very interesting subject (orphan trains), but the writing was amateurish, with incredibly stereotypical characters, a predictable plot and way too much sentimentality. I doubted throughout the book that the author had any firsthand experience with I was going to say this book reads like a YA novel, but then I realized that is an insult to some really well-written YA novels (The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, Flowers for Algernon...) Like many other readers, I thought the book had potential with a very interesting subject (orphan trains), but the writing was amateurish, with incredibly stereotypical characters, a predictable plot and way too much sentimentality. I doubted throughout the book that the author had any firsthand experience with orphans, Native Americans or the modern day foster care system. (If she does, it did not come through in her writing.) The plot lines wrapped up so neatly that I thought I was watching a Hallmark Channel movie for a minute. On the plus side, I commend the author for choosing a subject that is not well known to many people. I live in Minnesota, where many of the orphans in the book found homes after leaving the train, and I was not familiar with this history at all.
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  • Hanna Gichard
    June 17, 2013
    From what I can tell, this book is not classified primarily as a young adult novel. It definitely should be. The writing style is very simplistic and elementary, which is fine for a YA book. I was just expecting something a little more adult in terms of the writing style.That said, I think the subject of the book is very interesting. I found Vivian/Niamh's story fascinating, and I learned a lot about something in our country's history I knew nothing about. The ending was a little too neat and co From what I can tell, this book is not classified primarily as a young adult novel. It definitely should be. The writing style is very simplistic and elementary, which is fine for a YA book. I was just expecting something a little more adult in terms of the writing style.That said, I think the subject of the book is very interesting. I found Vivian/Niamh's story fascinating, and I learned a lot about something in our country's history I knew nothing about. The ending was a little too neat and contrived, but I can forgive that because the rest of Vivian's story was so rich and fascinating.I'm not rating this book higher because of Molly. Her perspecitve seemed completely gutted of any depth. It's pretty clear that the author only intended Molly to be a vehicle for Vivian's story, which is disappointing to me because I think the juxtaposition of Molly's and Vivian's stories would have so much more depth if Molly's character was developed more. The conflicts she goes through are too hastily resolved and her character development seems to happen out of nowhere. There is a sense of an ending for Vivian's character, but really none for Molly's - not even a hint of what might lie ahead. Molly's foster parents were unbelievably one-sided characters. Also, the author's attempts to write in Molly's teenage voice frequently came across as awkward - they are written pretty matter-of-factly and then all of a sudden there is random swearing or a makeout scene or her political differences with her stepmom. I think these things would be more easily reconciled if Molly's character were more fleshed out.All in all, an enjoyable, fast, easy read. Interesting historical fiction; just fell flat in some places.
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  • Julie
    September 25, 2016
    The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a 2013 William Morrow Paperbacks publication. I had heard such wonderful things about this book and have wanted to read it for a long time. Finally, with the decision to push the pause button on so many review copies and float back into reading for pure pleasure, I found the time to work this one in the TBR pile. This is just one of those really awesome stories that weaves historical details within a contemporary setting and enriches the lives of all The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a 2013 William Morrow Paperbacks publication. I had heard such wonderful things about this book and have wanted to read it for a long time. Finally, with the decision to push the pause button on so many review copies and float back into reading for pure pleasure, I found the time to work this one in the TBR pile. This is just one of those really awesome stories that weaves historical details within a contemporary setting and enriches the lives of all who read it. The orphan trains were indeed real, and Vivien’s experience was certainly plausible. I loved Vivien’s voice, her courage, and the way touched Molly’s life in a way no one ever had before, which drew Molly out, giving her a role model and inspiration all in one, giving her a new lease on life. I only had one complaint about her story, which can’t be explained here, but it was so improbable it affected my star rating. While the story is bleak at times, and certainly captures the incredibly hard lives orphans were subjected to in the past, but it also made a nice parallel with how those who wind up in the system today are equally at risk and suffer some of the same prejudices and abuse, being tossed around from place to place, used for labor or for money. I am so glad Molly met Vivien and enjoyed watching them forge a bond and enrich one another’s lives. Molly can be petulant and immature, unable to control her words or discipline herself, but also has the courage to stand up for herself and refuse to sacrifice her convictions. However, I think Vivien’s influence will be long reaching and Molly’s maturation is evident by the story’s end. By the same token, Molly’s influence on Vivien is also profound, as the elderly woman finds her whole world is open to new possibilities for the future, proving it is never too late to learn something new or try new things, and to never give up hope. I am also grateful the author chose this topic and period in history, informing many of us about the trains, something many, including myself, were unfamiliar with, and how she took such a sad and heartbreaking situation and turned it into the ultimate feel good story. 4 stars
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  • Candi
    October 9, 2014
    "They call this an orphan train, children, and you are lucky to be on it. You are leaving behind an evil place, full of ignorance, poverty, and vice, for the nobility of country life."This was a very interesting story about a piece of American history that was previously unknown to me. According to the author, between the years 1854 and 1929, two-hundred thousand orphaned or abandoned children were transported from the East coast to the Midwest on these so-called orphan trains. They were suppose "They call this an orphan train, children, and you are lucky to be on it. You are leaving behind an evil place, full of ignorance, poverty, and vice, for the nobility of country life."This was a very interesting story about a piece of American history that was previously unknown to me. According to the author, between the years 1854 and 1929, two-hundred thousand orphaned or abandoned children were transported from the East coast to the Midwest on these so-called orphan trains. They were supposedly sent there to find loving homes and a sense of security that the system felt would be best for them; but in reality, the outcomes were quite questionable and the futures of these children were very uncertain. This story is about one of those children, Niamh, as told through the eyes of her older self - Vivian, a name she was given once eventually adopted by a caring couple. Before this adoption, however, Niamh's story was anything but sweet and untroubled. We learn about her harsh life as the 91-year old Vivian relates the details to a modern day teen and foster home drifter named Molly. Molly has been assigned to community service due to a minor transgression and is given the task of assisting Vivian with cleaning out her attic. As Molly and Vivian sort through a lifetime of belongings, their two stories are brought to life and Molly is able to see the similarities between her own life and Vivian's past life. The book alternates between the voices of these two that have more in common than initially meets the eye. The voice of Molly appealed to me less than that of Niamh, or Vivian. Full of teen angst, which was quite understandable, Molly's character was not as well developed. "… it kind of feels nice to nurture her resentment, to foster it. It's something she can savor and control, this feeling of having been wronged by the world." Eventually we do get to see another side of her, but I would have liked a bit more - particularly at the end of the novel. Molly's Penobscot Indian heritage was only lightly touched upon, and further delving into this historical aspect would have appealed to me. There is a twist to the story that I found to be a bit unbelievable, given the circumstances, but I can't say more here without giving away too much. Needless to say, this did bring the book down from 5 stars. However, the Orphan Train still held my interest throughout, so I have rated it a solid 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. I would recommend this to readers of historical fiction, or even those interested in a young adult sort of story, as the portion with Molly often felt that way to me personally.I have to throw in another favorite quote: "Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They're with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles. So very true.
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  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    April 1, 2013
    3.5 stars. "Orphan Train" is a book set in both the present day and the late 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Vivian traveled from NYC to Minnesota as a young girl on one of the infamous "orphan trains" that was used to get orphans out of the cities into the country where they might have a better opportunity to find families and to be able to make a good life. I've read a couple fictional accounts of what these orphan trains were like and it always amazes me that there was something like that in this co 3.5 stars. "Orphan Train" is a book set in both the present day and the late 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Vivian traveled from NYC to Minnesota as a young girl on one of the infamous "orphan trains" that was used to get orphans out of the cities into the country where they might have a better opportunity to find families and to be able to make a good life. I've read a couple fictional accounts of what these orphan trains were like and it always amazes me that there was something like that in this country. The present day story also focuses on Vivian and her relationship with Molly, a teenager who is has been bounced around from foster home to foster home and is about the age out of the foster care system.As with many stories that take place in both the past and the present, I preferred Vivian's story in the past. This book is very much a character driven book but it is much more driven by Vivian than by Molly. I loved all of the historical detail that I Kline put into the book. I also really liked the descriptions of the families that Vivian went through and the people that she met along the way. Some parts of the newer story seemed a little forced. Vivian's story also had a lot more twists and turns than Molly's story (I love being surprised by book events). The ending of the book especially seemed a little rushed. I really wanted more detail about Molly and who she was and the motivation for the things that she did in the book. Overall, this book is a good read that will appeal to historical fiction lovers!
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  • Monika330
    November 10, 2013
    With some tweaking and editing, this might be a good young adult book as that's how it reads. I certainly didn't find it an adult book. I was disappointed that more history and information about orphan trains wasn't included. The author did appear to do her research, so I'm not sure why she chose not to include more of it.The book was painfully predictable. I knew pages beforehand what Groate was going to do. At the first hint of hint of World War II, I knew what would happen to Luke. Dina was l With some tweaking and editing, this might be a good young adult book as that's how it reads. I certainly didn't find it an adult book. I was disappointed that more history and information about orphan trains wasn't included. The author did appear to do her research, so I'm not sure why she chose not to include more of it.The book was painfully predictable. I knew pages beforehand what Groate was going to do. At the first hint of hint of World War II, I knew what would happen to Luke. Dina was labelled a conservative, and I immediately knew she'd be written as a one-dimensional, stereotypical witch. My attraction to chick lit fiction is that it hasn't been politicized as everything else has been, until this book. The bit about Vivian on the computer (Amazon, Netflix, etc.) was awkward and uncomfortable, and had me wondering if the author was paid for literary product placement. The texting, the business with the wifi, Twitter, Facebook....these are all things that belong in a book for teens, not in an adult book.What bothers me the most, however, is that years ago I recall reading a book that very much follows the lines Vivian's younger life. It was a juvenile fiction book. Those parts were so familiar, so either that goes back to the book's wrenching predictability, or it's highly derivative.It also ended abruptly. What happened to Molly? There weren't any final thoughts from her to give us any ideas of what direction her life would take. Disappointing. There just isn't much subtlety, maturity or elegance to this book.
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  • Theresa
    January 6, 2015
    "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline completely tugged at my heartstrings. Vivian and Molly might have a huge age gap between them, (Vivian is 91, Molly is 17) but both these sweet and sensitive ladies share a similar childhood. Both come from toxic families, and were later placed in foster care after becoming orphans. I found myself drawn to Vivian's chapters more than Molly's (not that Molly's chapters were boring or anything). Vivian's turbulent life aboard the orphan train had me in tears "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline completely tugged at my heartstrings. Vivian and Molly might have a huge age gap between them, (Vivian is 91, Molly is 17) but both these sweet and sensitive ladies share a similar childhood. Both come from toxic families, and were later placed in foster care after becoming orphans. I found myself drawn to Vivian's chapters more than Molly's (not that Molly's chapters were boring or anything). Vivian's turbulent life aboard the orphan train had me in tears, and the families that took her in were nothing but disappointments and heartaches. It's amazingly tragic how screwed up the foster care system really was in America during the late '20s-early '30s. The same can be said about Molly's upbringing in foster care in the present day. My only gripe with this book is, it's WAY too short, (only 273 pages) I didn't want it to end. Beautifully written (Vivan's story is 1st person narrative and Molly's story is 3rd person narrative) and shockingly truthful about what it means to come from a family that NEVER felt like family to begin with. Sometimes the people we end up connecting with on an emotional level are those who are not blood-related. The power of friendship can be an ultimate life saver for someone who is lacking a solid foundation of family/stability. Vivian and Molly's surprising friendship feels sincere and respectful. I hope to read more of Kline's novels in the near future. Enjoy! :)
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  • Debbie
    March 9, 2015
    I listened to this one instead of reading, and think reading is the way to go. While still really liking the story, the narration just wasn't great. That being said, there's just no way to go wrong with this book. I had never heard of these "Orphan Trains," and still find it heartbreaking to see just how horribly humans can treat one another, especially children. These trains, carrying homeless, abandoned, and orphaned kids ran for many years, up until 1929. While supposedly helping find kids ho I listened to this one instead of reading, and think reading is the way to go. While still really liking the story, the narration just wasn't great. That being said, there's just no way to go wrong with this book. I had never heard of these "Orphan Trains," and still find it heartbreaking to see just how horribly humans can treat one another, especially children. These trains, carrying homeless, abandoned, and orphaned kids ran for many years, up until 1929. While supposedly helping find kids homes, they were literally taken through Midwest towns and given to whoever signed a silly form. Most became nothing more indentured servants. I felt Kline was brilliant in creating such an amazing story, while at the same time shining her spotlight on an abhorrent piece of American History. The relationships and friendships that developed warmed my heart, especially after hearing the history of what so many endured. Kline has a lot going on here, entwining a current situation with her telling of the past, yet not once did I feel lost in any way. In the end, it's about hope, courage, and one's ability to face the most brutal of circumstances with dignity. Wonderful!
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  • Diane S ☔
    September 15, 2012
    I had known about the Orphan trains and had even read a few previous books on that subject. What I did not know was that these orphan trains actually ran for over seventy years, from 1854 until 1929 and that some two hundred thousand children were put on these trains. Of course not all of them found a loving family, many were treated like indentured servants, and many were abused. In present day, Molly who is 17, a foster child, is given community service for attempting to steal a book from the I had known about the Orphan trains and had even read a few previous books on that subject. What I did not know was that these orphan trains actually ran for over seventy years, from 1854 until 1929 and that some two hundred thousand children were put on these trains. Of course not all of them found a loving family, many were treated like indentured servants, and many were abused. In present day, Molly who is 17, a foster child, is given community service for attempting to steal a book from the public library. Her community service job introduces her to Vivian, who is 92, and needs help cleaning out her attic. In this absorbing tale, Vivian sees something of her younger self in Molly and as they go through the boxes Molly learns about Vivian's life as one of the children put on the orphan train. It is impossible not to be emotionally drawn to both of these characters. The narrative is realistic and told by both characters. Molly and Vivian both help each other and come to terms with what for Vivian is the end of her life, with a big surprise thrown in, and for Molly what is the beginning. The author includes at the end of the book pictures of some of the children. Will never understand how someone could have looked at these tender little children and not want to just hug them and take them home.Absolutely stirring.
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  • Nicole
    August 4, 2013
    This is another one of those "this book could have been so much better" books. I enjoyed learning about the orphan train and the experiences of those who were forced to ride them. I also enjoyed the relationship between 17-yr-old Molly and 91-yr-old Vivian, both of whom were orphans. So far, so good. But nearly all the foster families were exactly the same: strong-willed wives who didn't want to foster children married to milquetoast husbands who (for some reason) did. Whether in the 20's or pre This is another one of those "this book could have been so much better" books. I enjoyed learning about the orphan train and the experiences of those who were forced to ride them. I also enjoyed the relationship between 17-yr-old Molly and 91-yr-old Vivian, both of whom were orphans. So far, so good. But nearly all the foster families were exactly the same: strong-willed wives who didn't want to foster children married to milquetoast husbands who (for some reason) did. Whether in the 20's or present day, the men were dirt poor, yet found money for alcohol. Add to that Molly and Vivian had several identical experiences and it just got old. Also, the parts about Molly's Native American heritage seemed forced and I wasn't surprised to learn that the author's mother teaches a course about Native American women in literature and myth. So, I'm not sure that I recommend this novel. Those interested in the orphan trains would probably do well to just find historical books and biographies written by the original orphan train riders.
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  • Margitte
    December 2, 2014
    Troubled 17-year-old Penobscot Indian girl, Molly Ayer, moves from foster home to foster home after her father died in a car accident and her mom disappeared into her own haven of drugs and damnation. Molly is found guilty of a misdemeanor and has to do community service, which brings her in contact with 91-year-old Vivian Daly, who had more with Molly in common than she could ever imagine. Both were orphaned, but in different eras and both had a story to tell. Orphans were like turtles. They ca Troubled 17-year-old Penobscot Indian girl, Molly Ayer, moves from foster home to foster home after her father died in a car accident and her mom disappeared into her own haven of drugs and damnation. Molly is found guilty of a misdemeanor and has to do community service, which brings her in contact with 91-year-old Vivian Daly, who had more with Molly in common than she could ever imagine. Both were orphaned, but in different eras and both had a story to tell. Orphans were like turtles. They carried their homes on their backs. For those in foster care, they only had their bags to call home. It could be moved within an instant. Molly's dad told her: "They (turtles) were exposed and hidden at the same time. They're a symbol of strength and perseverance."Vivian had nobody left to share her memories with. Her memories included the hardship of famine in Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland, her father's drinking problem, a family who wanted to get rid of them, and a journey to America, which started out on the ship, Agnes Pauline. She became orphaned when a fire broke out in their apartment in New York. She was taken to the orphan train.She believed in ghosts, who surrounded her in everything she did, observing and witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight,dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth. My gram, with her kind eyes and talcum-dusted skin. My da, sober, laughing. My mam, singing a tune. The bitterness and alcohol and depression are stripped away from these phantom incarnations, and they console and protect me in death as they never did in life. She learnt very early in life, as a nine-year-old girl, when they were lined up by height at the train station in New York, that it was best to not think about the past. That it was best to forget. Later in her life she would have to forget how they were transported from one station to the next, lining up on stages in halls around the country, where people could pick them like work horses for various labor purposes. Free labor for whomever took them. Their ages did not count much. Adoption was only an option; a three-month trial compulsory, with a return of 'goods'- no questions asked, a guarantee. Vivian needed someone to assist in cleaning out her attic. Molly needed to do the community service, as well as a portage project for her history class. Two people were at the right crossroads at the right times of their lives. Through the hours of working together, and unpacking Vivian's past, a friendship evolves. A new lease on life begins. How could anyone understood how Molly really felt? But Vivian knew all too well. She understood.(view spoiler)[ When Vivian describes how it felt to be at the mercy of strangers, Molly nods. She knows full well what it’s like to tamp down your natural inclinations, to force a smile when you feel numb. After a while you don’t know what your own needs anymore. You’re grateful for the slightest hint of kindness, and then, as you get older, suspicious. Why would anyone do anything for you without expecting something in return? And anyway— most of the time they don’t. More often than not, you see the worst of people. You learn that most adults lie. That most people only look out for themselves. That you are only as interesting as you are useful to someone. And so your personality is shaped. You know too much, and this knowledge makes you wary. You grow fearful and mistrustful. The expression of emotion does not come naturally, so you learn to fake it. To pretend. To display an empathy you don’t actually feel. And so it is that you learn how to pass, if you’re lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you’re broken inside. (hide spoiler)]This pop-lit book (popular literature) centers around the friendship developing between the two main characters. In a quick fast read their stories are presented in alternate chapters. The history of the orphan trains which removed 200 000 children from New York's streets, between 1854 to 1929, was riveting, to say the least. The comparison between the young Molly's, and the much older Vivian's, orphan tales was so well done. The circumstances differed. It was two different periods in social development after all. But both the stories, described in detail, were still deeply unsettling. It is a good ending nevertheless. A feel-good moment. A feel-good read.
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  • Melissa
    July 25, 2016
    “Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear.” There’s no sugar coating it - this story broke my heart. I had no idea there were orphaned children that faced this fate; being thrown on a train from New York to the midwest in order to find a “family”. I say “family” because these people were looking for free labor as opposed to a child they were going to love.The past is told from Niamh’s perspective, an Irish girl tha “Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear.” There’s no sugar coating it - this story broke my heart. I had no idea there were orphaned children that faced this fate; being thrown on a train from New York to the midwest in order to find a “family”. I say “family” because these people were looking for free labor as opposed to a child they were going to love.The past is told from Niamh’s perspective, an Irish girl that emigrated to America with her family, only to lose them all in a fire and end up an orphan. In Niamh/Vivian’s case she was moved from one home to the next and suffered quite a bit. I could feel her loneliness seeping off of the pages.The current time period is told from Molly’s perspective, a 17 year-old foster kid, struggling in her current situation. She’s been taken away from her mother, bounced from one home to the next, and landed with a couple that wants nothing more than the check. She put up a good front, standing strong and sticking to her beliefs, but boy there were times it was tough to watch. I absolutely HATED Dina. Why is it that the foster mothers were always so mean? It’s community service that brings Molly and Vivian together, but it’s a school project that ultimately drags out the truth and cements their connection. First of all - Luke! He was my very favorite part of the story! He added the heart, something I felt was missing and desperately needed to connect more with the story. Vivian was basically a shell of person until he showed up. I have to admit, the ending took a turn I didn’t expect. I still can’t wrap my mind around one of the decisions that Vivian made. After everything she went through - no way! Who would do that? I wish we were left with a little more closure. An epilogue even. It felt too abrupt.
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  • Stephanie
    October 8, 2014
    Orphan Train is an educational and emotional read!This book is set in the Depression era and focuses on the story of a train that delivered over 200,000 children (orphans) from the East Coast to the Midwest from the mid-1800's to the Depression. Instead of finding these children loving homes, this process often resulted in children working on farms or in factories (for little or no wages) or being abused. "The system" didn't care! Parts of the book are shocking as you recognize how little these Orphan Train is an educational and emotional read!This book is set in the Depression era and focuses on the story of a train that delivered over 200,000 children (orphans) from the East Coast to the Midwest from the mid-1800's to the Depression. Instead of finding these children loving homes, this process often resulted in children working on farms or in factories (for little or no wages) or being abused. "The system" didn't care! Parts of the book are shocking as you recognize how little these "Christian" groups cared about the welfare of the children that they placed.I really enjoyed reading most of this book. It flows between Vivian's story of being a passenger on the Orphan Train back in the 1920's to Molly's story, who is currently in a foster home and is a troubled teen. When Molly is caught stealing a dog-eared copy of Jane Eyre from the library and faces punishment, her boyfriend's mother finds her a community service opportunity working for Vivian to clean out her attic. Vivian takes to Molly right away and the two form a bond. Their stories are contrasted and are well-developed and interesting to read.I really imagined rating this novel 5 stars, up until the ending.I have a hard time understanding (view spoiler)[ how Vivian gave up her newborn daughter and think that this is so out of character for her. After the tribulations that she went through and then how she coaches Molly, I just don't find this believable on any level. (hide spoiler)]I would highly recommend this book to people who enjoy historical or contemporary fiction. Overall, this was a great story!! It should also be a call to arms for "the system" because it was apparent that while it's different from Depression-era, it is still broken.
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  • Brenda
    March 17, 2017
    3.5 StarsI am not sure if this was the best time for me to have read Orphan Train, so it's hard for me to rate this one. I read mostly for enjoyment and to learn something and how I feel and timing play a huge part in when and what I choose to read. I really did enjoy this one and I do love to be taken on an emotional journey and I definitely learned something here, as I was unaware of Orphan trains. I was mostly on my own emotional train and missed feeling some of the emotions I would of normal 3.5 StarsI am not sure if this was the best time for me to have read Orphan Train, so it's hard for me to rate this one. I read mostly for enjoyment and to learn something and how I feel and timing play a huge part in when and what I choose to read. I really did enjoy this one and I do love to be taken on an emotional journey and I definitely learned something here, as I was unaware of Orphan trains. I was mostly on my own emotional train and missed feeling some of the emotions I would of normally felt while reading this one. The story is told in alternating chapters from present time of 17 year-old Molly who is doing community service and told in the past from Irish immigrant 91 year old Vivian who Molly is doing the community service for. In the past we learn of Vivian’s childhood. They seem like an odd match with nothing in common but we learn soon that they do and they start to form a bond. They both are orphans, had to adapt to one foster family to another, have had loss, suffering and perseverance. As the stories are told separately we start to understand their interconnections with each other and their stories become one.Orphan Train had all the elements I love in an emotional read for me with a satisfying ending. My rating for this one is 3.5 at the time of reading for my enjoyment. I do highly recommend. All of Norma's & my reviews can be found on our Sister Blog:http://www.twogirlslostinacouleereadi...
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  • Linda O'Donnell
    February 8, 2015
    Reading Orphan Train was like lifting the curtain on a part of our American history that many people are still unaware of. Thousands of children, the orphaned and the unwanted, were transported from cities of the East to the farmlands and small towns of the Midwest at the turn of the century and on into the Great Depression. It was a time of no background screening, minimal paperwork, and only a willingness to alleviate the hoards of children who were homeless for a multitude of reasons. While s Reading Orphan Train was like lifting the curtain on a part of our American history that many people are still unaware of. Thousands of children, the orphaned and the unwanted, were transported from cities of the East to the farmlands and small towns of the Midwest at the turn of the century and on into the Great Depression. It was a time of no background screening, minimal paperwork, and only a willingness to alleviate the hoards of children who were homeless for a multitude of reasons. While some children were better off under this limited system, so many were relegated to the life of an indentured servant, a built-in caregiver for other children, or a hardworking farmhand. If not placed, the remaining children were transported, once again, back to institutional life in the East until they became of age.Christina Baker Kline has done an exceptional job of presenting the story of Niamh Power, a fictional character, who represents many aspects of a child's life under this system. Her research and background work is stellar in securing historically accurate depictions of the time period. The experiential background of this child will certainly open your eyes to the sad fate of some of these individuals. The additional insights and interviews with the author at the end of the book provided such an extension to her story.What makes this such an exceptional read is Ms. Kline's use of a parallel story of current conditions alongside the telling of Niamh's life. It's not one story overshadowing the other. You are drawn both to the past and to the present with her adept use of characterizations. Not only is Ms. Kline talented in presenting the inner turmoil and emotions of the characters, but she paints the conditions, the settings, the interactions with a fine brush of satisfying details to be savored.I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. Christina Baker Kline has caught my attention as an author whose works will always be memorable. Bravo!
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  • James
    August 31, 2015
    4 stars to Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train. It is a beautiful book - everything from the story to the imagery. Two parallel stories being told about what happens to a young girl when her family life is threatened. The elder, a 90-something year old woman remembering her past. The younger, a teenager doing community service for the 90 year old. They bond. They fight. The stories nearly become one. And perhaps one of them will get to answer the question "who am I, really?"
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  • Ruth
    July 20, 2013
    I received this book for my birthday and it was not one that I had heard about. I jumped in and looked at the description and looked forward to reading it. I do enjoy historical fiction where the writer has done a lot of research and you learn about a period in history. Life was tough in New York City and the east coast. In information at the back of the book, it said that their might be ten thousand orphans living on the streets of New York during this time period. I would think that the orphan I received this book for my birthday and it was not one that I had heard about. I jumped in and looked at the description and looked forward to reading it. I do enjoy historical fiction where the writer has done a lot of research and you learn about a period in history. Life was tough in New York City and the east coast. In information at the back of the book, it said that their might be ten thousand orphans living on the streets of New York during this time period. I would think that the orphan trains were developed to get the orphans off the streets, ridding the people who lived there of a problem and that some of the adults involved were genuinely trying to help these children. In many cases, however, they were turning a blind eye to the reality of what many of these children faced. They were not adopted to be part of a family but rather were indentured servants, who earned their keep through hard work as farmhands or housemaids. I thought the story was well written and I loved the way the author paralleled the lives of a train rider, who was 91 at the time of the story and a 17 year-old girl, who was aging out of the foster care system. Vivian, the train rider, discloses her story to Molly, as Molly helps her clean out her attic. Surly Molly, who has had such a rough life, learns to care about Vivian and enjoys being around her. Through Vivian's experiences, she learns some things about herself. I was not aware of the "Orphan Trains" and learned a lot in reading this book. I have already recommended it to several friends to read since I am sure that they will enjoy it, also. I think Christina Baker Kline did a great job with her subject causing you to not only learn and think about a period in our history. but to thoroughly involve you in the lives of her two main characters and to feel deeply the emotions surrounding their lives.
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  • Kathy
    September 29, 2013
    Orphan Train is an unfortunate train wreck of generic, formulaic, historical fiction plotting and all the subtlety and nuance of a Mack truck. It's got a great premise - the orphan trains were a real part of American history. Orphaned children were loaded up on trains by well-intentioned Children's Aid workers and marched off at various stops in the midwest and west where families would look them over and decide whether to keep them as foster children or eventually adopt them. It's not too much Orphan Train is an unfortunate train wreck of generic, formulaic, historical fiction plotting and all the subtlety and nuance of a Mack truck. It's got a great premise - the orphan trains were a real part of American history. Orphaned children were loaded up on trains by well-intentioned Children's Aid workers and marched off at various stops in the midwest and west where families would look them over and decide whether to keep them as foster children or eventually adopt them. It's not too much of a stretch to figure out how many were treated. And that's about all that is good about this book. Both the present day story and the historical story both suffer from ridiculous cardboard characters and plot situations that are entirely predictable and cliched. 2 stars only for the setting and the potential of the book. Goodreads needs half stars to more accurately rate books.
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  • Melanie
    February 20, 2016
    I loved this book :-). I had never heard of the Orphan Trains so it was great to learn something while reading. The parts of the book set in the past were my favorite although I did like Molly's story as well. I had a few tears at the end. Looking forward to the movie :-).
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  • Renata
    May 7, 2016
    El tren de los huérfanos creo que se ha convertido en uno de mis libros favoritos. El libro cuenta una historia poco conocida de Estados Unidos y realmente me dejó con la boca abierta saber que estas cosas han pasado de verdad. Básicamente entre 1854 y 1929 habían trenes que llevaban a miles de niños huérfanos, abandonados, sin techo por todas las ciudades de Estados Unidos para que los adoptaran familias. En una ciudad determinada, por ejemplo Chicago, a las 11 de la mañana venían familias y re El tren de los huérfanos creo que se ha convertido en uno de mis libros favoritos. El libro cuenta una historia poco conocida de Estados Unidos y realmente me dejó con la boca abierta saber que estas cosas han pasado de verdad. Básicamente entre 1854 y 1929 habían trenes que llevaban a miles de niños huérfanos, abandonados, sin techo por todas las ciudades de Estados Unidos para que los adoptaran familias. En una ciudad determinada, por ejemplo Chicago, a las 11 de la mañana venían familias y recogían a niños de manera gratuita con la condición de darles de comer, educación y tomarlos como un miembro nuevo en la familia. La idea en sí está genial hasta que ves lo que realmente pasa. Miles de niños acabaron en familias que necesitaban mano de obra gratis, los maltrataban, usaban como querían pero los niños no podían hacer nada. Muchos fueron separados de sus hermanos, tuvieron que dejar atrás sus tradiciones y principios y muchos de ellos acabaron sintiendo que no pertenecían a ningún lugar. Lo más fuerte es que todo esto es real, ha pasado de verdad y se habla tan poco sobre ello. Las protagonistas son Vivian Daly que tiene sus noventa años y Molly Ayer de diecisiete años. Puede parecer que no tienen nada en común además son de generaciones muy distintas, pero al final tienen más de lo que esperan. Molly fue abandonada y desde pequeña estuvo de una casa de acogida en otra, muchas veces hasta menos de una semana. En el libro está actualmente con una familia donde el padre, Ralph es bastante bueno con ella pero su esposa, Dina, no para de echarle la bronca y tratarla mal. Molly intenta robar un libro, su preferido, y por eso más antecedentes tiene que hacer cincuenta horas de trabajo social. Jack, su novio, encuentra un trabajo ideal que es cuidar a la señora Vivian, donde su madre trabaja, y así le ayuda a elegir cajas con objetos viejos a donarlos. Niamh, (o Vivian)que su nombre fue cambiando, fue una chica que pasó por el tren de los huérfanos. Su familia emigró de Irlanda hacía Nueva York para un futuro mejor pero desafortunadamente dos semanas después de llegar, el piso donde estaban se quemó y murió toda su familia. Los vecinos la llevaron a la Asociación de Socorro Infantil donde enviaban los menores en trenes hacía nuevas ciudades para que las familias los acogiera. En el tren tuvo que cuidar de un niño menor, Carmine y empezó a hablar con Dutchy que vivía en las calles. En la primera parada se separan y realmente me rompió el corazón cuando una familia se llevó a Carmine y el bebé no quería irse y se agarró con todas sus fuerzas en los brazos de Niamh, dolió imaginar la escena. Poco después se llevan a Dutchy y le promete a esta que volverán a encontrarse. Niamh en la siguiente parada una familia la lleva para utilizarla como mano de obra gratis y le cambian el nombre a Dorothy. Le trataban muy mal y no le daba comida suficiente y cuando las cosas fueron para mal de deshicieron de ella. Es bastante triste si piensas que las cosas pueden ir para bien pero una niña de tan solo 9 años tenga que coser y limpiar la casa y ser tratada como una basura solo por que es huérfana te hace daño. Además, Niamh estaba tan triste de que no la dejaban ir a la escuela y la familia la trataban mal por que era cristiana y muchas veces se reían de su acento. Poco después la Asociación de Socorro Infantil la lleva a otra casa en un campo con la familia Grote donde la madre no hace más que dormir, el padre se pasa todo el tiempo fuera y Niamh tiene que cuidar de los 4 hijos de la familia. En principio era una rutina ya que esta familia la dejó ir al colegio y allí conoció a la señora Larson, la maestra que fue de gran ayuda. La familia del campo casi que pasaban de su existencia menos el señor Grote que, por muy duro y horrible que suena, abusa de ella. En ese momento su esposa, la señora Grote lo pilla y le echa la culpa a Niamh, una niña de diez años, y la echa de casa en pleno invierno. Niamh se va corriendo a casa de la señora Larson y esta comunica con la Asociaicón de socorro pero no aceptan lo que Niamh dice ya que el cliente está por encima. La señora Larson hace (y creo que es una de las mejores cosas del libro) que Niamh conozca a sus amigos que la acaban adoptando. La nueva familia Nielsen le cambian el nombre a Vivian ya que ellos tuvieron una hija con ese nombre pero murió y Niamh era lo más cercano que tenían a una hija. Realmente fue genial ver que por fin alguien cuida de ella y me encantó tanto como la trataban y aunque Viv nunca llegó a llamarlos padres, se quería. Cuando Viv cumplió diecinueve años se encuentra a Dutchy en un bar y dos años después se casan. Creo que el reencuentro yo una no lo esperaba y me encantó lo que sentí y fue tan OMG que sigo feliz por como pasaron las cosas. Dos años más tarde Dutchy es enviado en la guerra y Viv está embarazada. Como era bastante de esperar (o yo lo esperé) Dutchy muere en la guerra y Viv no puede aceptar a la hija que tiene así que la da en adopción. Aquí es cuando llega Molly. Ella pasó en muchas casas de acogida, fue tratada mal por los que tuvieron que cuidarla y en ver la historia de Viv se sintió muy identificada. Un día Molly discute con sus padres de acogida y se va a vivir con Viv y le ayuda a esta a reencontrar a la hija que dio en adopción. Bien, supongo que esto es más un resumen de lo que pasó pero realmente merece tanta la pena leer el libro, es tan genial y tan bien escrito y te hace sentir tantas cosas que yo estaba a punto de llorar en muchas partes. Es triste que las cosas pasaron así y leer lo que tuvo que pasar una niña de tan solo nueve años te rompe pero creo que la autora hizo un trabajo genial. No sé que más decir que el libro se ha convertido en uno de mis favoritos y fue una lectura tan buena que solo quiero que leáis el libro y así lo pueda comentar con alguien. ¿Es propio de la naturaleza humana creer que las cosas ocurren por una razón, encontrar algún resto de significado en las peores experiencias?
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  • KatieMc
    February 12, 2015
    Orphan Train WreckThe book I just read was terrible. It’s so bad, I thought that I might be the victim a literary candid camera type gag, where I would get to the last page and read “HA HA HA… you just read the fake parody version of Orphan Train.” Everything about this book was bad. Each and every character was straight out of central casting. The plot was predictable, rushed and overcrowded with stuff. If you saw any of my updates, you will know that the writing was gratuitously descriptive an Orphan Train WreckThe book I just read was terrible. It’s so bad, I thought that I might be the victim a literary candid camera type gag, where I would get to the last page and read “HA HA HA… you just read the fake parody version of Orphan Train.” Everything about this book was bad. Each and every character was straight out of central casting. The plot was predictable, rushed and overcrowded with stuff. If you saw any of my updates, you will know that the writing was gratuitously descriptive and melodramatic. The symbolism was embarrassingly obvious.This book got off to a bad start with me. Shortly after an odd prologue about an unnamed character believing in ghosts, we meet Molly, a troubled Goth teen in the foster care system. Molly is a tough, demi-orphan (view spoiler)[she actually has a drunken father around somewhere (hide spoiler)], but she loves to read. Molly is in BIG TROUBLE!!!! She is on the hook to do 50 community service hours, but since she is untrustworthy no one will take her. And if she can’t do the service hours, she is heading back to juvie. Poor Molly is in a pickle. BTW, you might wonder what Molly did to get into such trouble. Maybe shoplifting, stealing cars, aggravated assault? Nope, Molly stole a tattered copy of Jane Eyre from the public library. Did I mention the symbolism was written at the third grade level? Thanks to Molly’s perfect boyfriend, she snags a community service gig helping an elderly woman clean out her attic (view spoiler)[because you can’t die and leave a mess (hide spoiler)]. This is where we meet Vivian Daly, the attic lady. Guess what, Vivian just happens to be a demi-orphan too, imagine that! So we start to learn about Vivian’s childhood and her experiences on the Orphan Train. Ironically, very little of her story actually takes place on the train. The use of archetypal characters was tiring at best and often offensive. There were drunken absent fathers, evil foster mothers, bumbling husbands, immigrant hating Midwesterners, and magical savior teachers. Molly’s foster mother was painted as a meat-loving right wing-nut who wants to get rid of her. Which reminds me, I noticed that the author couldn’t seem help from adding superfluous layers to Molly’s character. For instance, when Molly is sent to clean Vivan’s attic, Molly confesses to being a neat freak. Molly also happens to be a vegetarian, something that didn’t seem to serve any purpose other than to add conflict between her and her foster mother. I haven’t mentioned much about Vivian’s side of the story. It’s the historical part, taking place from 1929-1943 and follows Niamh (pronounced Neev) as she goes from Irish immigrant to orphan to foster child in a series of unfortunate placements. Niamh becomes Dorothy, because Americans hate foreign sounding names. She has a Dickensian experience which includes working in a sweat shop, caring for small children and eating squirrel stew. While Niamh’s story is written in present tense, from her child’s point of view, it was reads like an over acted soap-opera. As an example:"Stripped of family and identity, fed meager rations, consigned to hard wooden seats until we are to be, as Slobbery Jack suggested, sold into slavery—our mere existence is punishment enough."Said no nine year old ever.
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  • Chrissie
    April 21, 2013
    I am pleasantly surprised by Orphan Train. Some of the lines are very well written. The book is told from the perspective of two young girls, each in their own way orphans, one living in contemporary times and the other back during the years of the Depression. The historical thread is based on the orphan trains that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes in rural areas of the Midwest. The central theme is however how it feels t I am pleasantly surprised by Orphan Train. Some of the lines are very well written. The book is told from the perspective of two young girls, each in their own way orphans, one living in contemporary times and the other back during the years of the Depression. The historical thread is based on the orphan trains that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes in rural areas of the Midwest. The central theme is however how it feels to be all alone in the world. No family to rely on. No one. The book well describes how this might feel. It neither exaggerates nor lessens the hardships of such a fate. The language, thoughts and actions of these two girls, as they are expressed in the novel feel both appropriate and genuine. Their thoughts do reflect their age, but anything else would be wrong. In this way the book reads somewhat as a young adult novel. The reader follows them as they mature, one into old age the other simply into a better understanding of herself. The switch between the two threads is simple to follow, which I did appreciate.The author cleverly ties in history and both Native American (Penobscot) and Irish traditions. The ending? Well, it is kind of cute.....too cute for me. I appreciate that Vivian, the orphan child who lived through the Depression,(view spoiler)[ never really was able to let down her guard, to let others in close, except perhaps through talking with Molly (hide spoiler)]. Molly is the second orphan, the orphan of today's world. In fact I felt the author captured her world better than Vivian's! Some really great lines; I couldn't help but smile. I kind of liked that the adults disappointed me, does that surprise you? This makes the story more realistic!I am rating the written words. I absolutely detested the narration. You are told that the audiobook will be narrated by two: Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren. Suzanne Toren is a fabulous narrator, but her portion was m-i-n-i-m-a-l. Just a few minutes! All the rest is narrated by Almasy and she sounds so juvenile, so flippant so childish. Not to my liking at all....except maybe when she was giving us some of Molly's smart aleck lines. For most of the book I really had to force myself to listen to the words and not what I was hearing. You see I should try books that GR friends warn me against! Books surprise you. Nevertheless, the book quite simply didn’t challenge me enough to give it more stars.
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  • Lou
    April 18, 2013
    This is a story involving a real period in history when children, who were orphaned or just given away, had been put on train from one state to another state of the U.S.A. into the care of a new family.The children in this story were intrusted to families in many cases to help with household chores or cheap labor and the family was supposedly to give in return food, shelter and schooling. The sad fates on the children in this tale make hard reading and the negligence of those that handed them ov This is a story involving a real period in history when children, who were orphaned or just given away, had been put on train from one state to another state of the U.S.A. into the care of a new family.The children in this story were intrusted to families in many cases to help with household chores or cheap labor and the family was supposedly to give in return food, shelter and schooling. The sad fates on the children in this tale make hard reading and the negligence of those that handed them over shocking and careless. These new carers had no suitable checks their personalities their behaviors and minds were damaging to the characters in this story. There is a some joy for the main girl of this story eventually after being in the hands of harm they found some safety.This story is told through two women, a teen Molly, and an elderly lady Vivian.They both meet due to Molly, who lives with foster parents, having to do some community service time, she is pointed in the direction of Vivian who has a large home and an attic that needs cleaning out and sorting. What she finds is that she embarks in a conversation on the past of this wise woman, Vivian, and her life that partook in her being on an orphan train. This woman Vivian tells her journey, her harrowing experiences. She tells of the people she encountered in her youth, her journey makes heartbreaking reading.She was a young red head from Ireland whose family when arriving in the USA found life very tough, and when the 1930′s depression era hit they found it even harder.Together in their conversation and speaking of their past their piece together and settle some pains and reunite lost hearts.Memorable reading, memorable characters, a story that can not be passed of as just fiction but real and occurred in many children’s lives in bygone days and the present.A great important story that was handled wonderfully by this very capable writer. "I believe in ghosts. They're the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost.Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth. My gram, with her kind eyes and talcum-dusted skin. My da, sober, laughing. My mam singing a tune. The bitterness and alcohol and depression are stripped away from these phantom incarnations, and they console and protect me in death as they never did in life.""He was killed in a one-car rollover several weeks later, speeding down 1-95 on an icy night, after which her mother, all of twenty-three, started a downward spiral she never recovered from. By Molly's next birthday she was living with a new family, and her mother was in jail. The charms are all she has left of what used to be her life.""Molly learned long ago that a lot of the heartbreak and betrayal that other people feartheir entire lives, she has already faced. Father dead. Mother off the deep end. Shuttled around and rejected time and time again. And still she breathes and sleeps and grows taller. She wakes up every morning and puts on clothes. So when she says it's okay, what she means is that she knows she can survive just about anything. And now, for the first time since she can remember, she has someone looking out for her.""We hear the train before we can see it. A low hum, a rumble underfoot, a deep-throated whistle, faint at first and then louder as the train gets close. We crane our necks to look down the track, and suddenly here it is: a black engine looming over us, shadowing the platform, letting out a hiss of steam like a massive panting animal.I am with a group of twenty children, all ages. We are scrubbed and in our donated clothes, the girls in dresses with white pinafores and thick stockings, the boys in knickers that button below the knee, white dress shirts, neckties, thick wool suit coats. It is an unseasonably warm October day, Indian summer, Mrs. Scatcherd calls it, and we are sweltering on the platform. My hair is damp against my neck, the pinafore stiff and uncomfortable. In one hand I clutch a small brown suitcase that, excepting the locket, contains everything I have in the world, all newly acquired: a bible, two sets of clothes, a hat, a black coat several sizes too small, a pair of shoes. Inside the coat is my name, embroidered by a volunteer at the Children's Aid Society.""Chicago is a proud and noble city, on the edge of a great lake. The lake makes it windy, hence its appellation: 'The Windy City.' You will bring your suitcases, of course, and your wool blanket to wrap yourself in, as we will be on the platform for at least an hour."The good citizens of Chicago no doubt view you as ruffians, thieves, and beggars, hopeless sinners who have not a chance in the world of being redeemed. They are justifiably suspicious of your character. Your task is to prove them wrong—to behave with impeccable manners, and comport yourselves like the model citizens the Children's Aid Society believes you can become.""Vivian has never really talked about her experience on the train with anyone. It was shameful, she says. Too much to explain, too hard to believe. All those children sent on trains to the Midwest—collected off the streets of New York like refuse, garbage on a barge, to be sent as far away as possible, out of sight.And anyway, how do you talk about losing everything?""When Vivian describes how it felt to be at the mercy of strangers, Molly nods. She knows full well what its like to tamp down your natural inclinations, to force a smile when you feel numb. After a while you don't know what your own needs are anymore. You're grateful for the slightest hint of kindness, and then, as you get older, suspicious. Why would anyone do anything for you without expecting something in return? And anyway—most of the time they don't. More often than not, you see the worst of people. You learn that most adults lie. That most people only look out for themselves. That you are only as interesting as you are useful to someone.And so your personality is shaped. You know too much, and this knowledge makes you wary. You grow fearful and mistrustful. The expression of emotion does not come naturally, so you learn to fake it. To pretend. To display an empathy you don't actually feel. And so it is that you learn how to pass, if you're lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you're broken inside." Review also @ http://more2read.com/review/orphan-train-by-christina-baker-kline/
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  • Sharon
    July 22, 2013
    Orphan Train is a beautifully written story.This is a story about 91 year old Vivian who as a child was orphaned and placed on the "Orphan Train".Vivian tells her story of being adopted and how she is mistreated throughout her childhood.Then there is Molly who is 17 and has lived in many foster homes.Molly must do 50 hours of community service and this is where she crosses paths with 91 year old Vivian.Vivian lives in a mansion where she has an attic that needs cleaning out.The attic is filled b Orphan Train is a beautifully written story.This is a story about 91 year old Vivian who as a child was orphaned and placed on the "Orphan Train".Vivian tells her story of being adopted and how she is mistreated throughout her childhood.Then there is Molly who is 17 and has lived in many foster homes.Molly must do 50 hours of community service and this is where she crosses paths with 91 year old Vivian.Vivian lives in a mansion where she has an attic that needs cleaning out.The attic is filled boxes, furniture and memories.This is where Molly does her community service and helps Vivian sort through her possessions.During this time they discover they have quite a lot in common.I really enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it.
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