Orphan Train

Orphan Train

A Novel

eBook - 2013
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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 widow clean out her attic 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 tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.
Publisher: New York : William Morrow, ©2013
ISBN: 9780062101204
006210120X
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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4.57 by our community-wide book discussion in 2014


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Librarian_Deb Aug 28, 2017

Two stories intertwine in this novel that examines the lives of those who are orphaned or separated from their parents and put into "the system". For Molly that system is foster care, where she barely tolerates the people that she lives with. A minor theft (of a library book) lands Molly into legal trouble and she finds herself having to do a community service project. Enter Vivian, a senior citizen with an attic that needs to be cleaned out and a past full of things that she never talks about. Vivian's past includes her experiences as an orphan train rider - where after being orphaned in New York City she was sent on a train out west to be placed with a "wholesome" family. As Molly helps Vivian go through her things both women gradually open up to each other which allows the reader to experience several flashbacks where Vivian tells her story. These parts of the book were my favorites. Vivian encountered some shocking living conditions and people while growing up and I kept reading to see how one earth she was ever going to survive and thrive the many obstacles placed in her path. I definitely found her story more compelling than Molly's, but it was intriguing to have the contrast between how Vivian's situation was handled in the past and how Molly's was being handled in the modern day. That contrast became a focal point for discussion in my book group, so it does add a lot to the book. I definitely recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, particularly if they enjoy stories of young people navigating difficult waters to become successful adults.

e
Einer2
Aug 25, 2017

Another bit of history revealed in a very readable tale. If you've been to the lower east side of Manhattan and visited the Tenement Museum (something everyone should do) the bookwill take on even more meaning regarding the struggles of immigrants coming to our country still today.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Aug 24, 2017

A teenage girl recently kicked out of her orphanage home helps an elderly woman for community service, which helps keep her afoot. As they spend more time with each other both Vivian, the girl, and Molly, the old woman, realize that they have more in common than they thought. This historical drama shows a bonding between two very tragic characters, from the author Christina Baker Kline, an unlikely friendship is born. This book is amazing, but it was very cliche, the parents were typically abusive and Vivian doesn't particularly seem like a problem child, and the old lady is of course the exact same as the protagonist.
- @Florence of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

p
peacebenow
Aug 22, 2017

Heart warming book. Enjoyed seeing the relationships unfurl. Ended too soon. Almost want to read again.

t
Tannerking54
Feb 16, 2017

Easy fast read of this historical fiction book. Love the story of friendship and the study of how people grow and change.

ehbooklover Feb 14, 2017

This was a reread for an upcoming book club meeting. I loved it just as much this time around! My original review from 2015: An amazing story of adversity and resilience that is based on an actual historical event. I admit that I had no knowledge of the use of Orphan Trains and reading this book was a very eye-opening experience for me. I really loved the two main characters and the way their lives intersected to create a wonderfully unique and unexpected friendship and because of that I didn't want this book to end.

Lilac_Summer Nov 02, 2016

Enjoyed the historical content

r
readerF451
Sep 21, 2016

Orphan Train felt like a very crafted book. It is among a group of books where alternating stories of the past and present are woven together, and end on a hopeful note.

The historical section involving the story of the Orphan Train was more successful to me. The background story for Vivian and her journey were more compelling than Molly, the present day protagonist. Her story did not feel true to me, but I am far from a teenager at this point in my life. If the author had given a more general backstory on the present day plight of some Native Americans, the comparison would have held together for me in a better way. The theme of outsiders was evident, but in the end, I never felt attached to either of the main characters.

This book seems very suitable for young adult readers, as the teenage years are so much a search for identity and belonging. The language is simple and the stories lend themselves to a compare and contrast discussion.

If you found this book your cup of tea, you will also enjoy A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner.

o
ownedbydoxies
Sep 18, 2016

Very touching, and I like the two-story arc which follows two orphans born in different times, comparing similarities and differences in their experiences. Very well-written and researched.

Riddlereads Sep 17, 2016

A wonderful story of friendship that grows from unexpected unions, Orphan Train is a must read for lovers of all fiction, especially historic.

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Magicworld
Jul 24, 2015

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May 12, 2015

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maroon_moose_31 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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suzee5454
Jun 22, 2013

suzee5454 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Magicworld
Jul 24, 2015

“I feel a joy so strong it’s almost painful—a knife’s edge of joy.”

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