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Literary Friday: Orphan Train: A Novel

Friday, January 20, 2017

Happy Friday, My Lovelies!  So happy it's the weekend.  I hope to have a wonderful one filled with books, art, and family!

This week I read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

About Orphan Train

• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Christina Baker Kline’s #1 New York Times bestselling novel—the captivating story of 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 long-buried questions…now with an extended scene that addresses the number one question readers ask, and an excerpt from Kline’s upcoming novel A Piece of the World.

 “A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of America’s history. Beautiful.”—Ann Packer 

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.

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


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon

Photo by Jerry Bauer

About Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline is the author of five novels. She lives out-side of New York City and on the coast of Maine. Find out more about Kline at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

My Review

Orphan Train is a book that moved me to tears.  Christina Baker Kline depicts a rarely talked about chapter in American history: the orphan trains.  These trains transported orphans from East Coast cities to the Midwest from before the Civil War up until the Great Depression.  Vivian, whose Irish birth name is Niamh (pronounced Neev), represents the fates of these children as she has three placements from bad, to hideous, to safe and comfortable.  She can relate to Molly's circumstances because children in the foster care system never know what to expect: Their fates are often determined by the whims of foster parents and social workers.

As Molly helps Vivian organize her possessions stored in her attic, Vivian shares her life as they open each trunk or box.  Molly decides to record Vivian's stories for a history project for school, and quickly the community service hours she's earning by helping Vivian organize her attic and the history project become less work and more fun.

In spite of their age difference, Vivian and Molly form a friendship based on more than their shared sadness and abandonment.  They soon trust each other with secrets never shared with others, and both seek to find answers to questions from their pasts and look ahead to brighter futures.  I think this is a big deal for both women because children in foster care often live in the present: The past is too painful, and the future is so uncertain.  Children who make it through the system with closure for the past and optimism and hope for the future are truly the fortunate ones.

Orphan Train is a quick read, and I highly recommend it.  It will keep you engrossed the entire time you read it.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Orphan Train from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy Reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I read this book quite a while ago and thought it was a good book. I never knew about the orphan trains before I read this book and found it a heartbreaking to think of those kids that were ripped from their families. xo Diana

  2. oh goodness, I can't imagine those orphan trains, how sad! This sounds like an interesting book, full of history and traveling to a different time...Enjoy your family weekend!

  3. This one sounds interesting! I just read The Woman in Cabin 10 and have started on The Whistler.

  4. HEY!!!!! I read this one!!!!!! Now I have a chance to catch up a little-hahaha! Just read the Ramblers, and did enjoy it

  5. Putting a child on a train and sending him or her into the great unknown is mind-boggling to me. I understand that times were different then, but wow ... how crazy that must have been.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  6. I have it on my list to read. Thank you for the review.

  7. I love books that take a look at a piece of history that isn't very well known. I'm sure after this book, the history of orphan trains was researched a lot more than it ever had been!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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