Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Review: Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

Mesmerizing historical fiction. Orphan Train highlights a little known piece of American history while connecting it to the present.

Molly is in foster care. She might as well be an orphan, since she doesn't know what happened to her mom or if she's even alive. Molly is about to turn 18, and she has no idea what will happen after that. Foster care has had its ups and downs, and although her situation is currently better than usual, she's never had the love of a family. She gets caught stealing a library book and is assigned fifty hours of community service.

She ends up working for Vivian, and elderly widow, who lives in a mansion with an attic full of her old junk that must be cleaned out. Must it really? Vivian and Molly build an unlikely friendship, and it turns out they have more in common that you would think. Vivian was orphaned in New York at a very young age. This was shortly after her family immigrated from Ireland. Vivian ended up on an orphan train heading to the midwest where farmers, shopkeepers, or families could adopt these children. Many times it turned into nothing more than servitude for these children.

As they go through old belongings and Vivian's story comes out, the two create an unbreakable bond that ends up helping both of them. Orphan Train is cleverly written to let out bits of the story at a time and keep the reader guessing and pulling for a bright future for these two lost souls. It's heartwarming and ultimately hopeful, although some of the hardships they faced are horrifying.

Orphan Train is a short, well-researched book with a powerful punch making it easy to recommend to a wide audience, including younger teens. I adored it.

Published by William Morrow, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
278 pages

Rating: 5/5

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  1. This was on our summer reading list for school. I've been meaning to read it ever since it came out. I've heard nothing but great things about it. I'm looking forward to picking it up soon.

  2. My book club read this a year or so ago and really liked it. Unfortunately the story has really faded in my mind.


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