Orphan Train

Orphan Train

4.4 782
by Christina Baker Kline
     
 

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The #1 New York Times Bestseller

Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past—and it includes a special PS section for book clubs featuring insights, interviews, and more.

Penobscot Indian Molly

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Overview

The #1 New York Times Bestseller

Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past—and it includes a special PS section for book clubs featuring insights, interviews, and more.

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns 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.

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 unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

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Editorial Reviews

Huffington Post
“A gem.”
Marisa de los Santos
“I was so moved by this book. I loved Molly and Vivian, two brave, difficult, true-hearted women who disrupt one another’s lives in beautiful ways, and loved journeying with them, through heartbreak and stretches of history I’d never known existed, out of loneliness toward family and home.”
Ann Packer
“A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history. Beautiful.”
Ann Hood
“In ORPHAN TRAIN, Christina Baker Kline seamlessly knits together the past and present of two women, one young and one old. Kline reminds us that we never really lose anyone or anything or—perhaps most importantly—ourselves.”
Monica Wood
“I loved this book: its absorbing back-and-forth story, its vivid history, its eminently loveable characters. ORPHAN TRAIN wrecked my heart and made me glad to be literate.”
Cathy Marie Buchanan
“Christina Baker Kline writes exquisitely about two unlikely friends . . . each struggling to transcend a past of isolation and hardship. ORPHAN TRAIN will hold you in its grip as their fascinating tales unfold.”
Helen Schulman
“Christina Baker Kline’s latest wonder, ORPHAN TRAIN, makes for compulsive reading...Meticulously researched and yet full of the breath of life, Kline’s novel takes us on an historical journey where survival depends upon one’s own steely backbone, and the miracle of a large and generous heart.”
Kathleen Kent
“A poignant and memorable story of two steadfast, courageous women...A revelation of the universal yearing for belonging, for family, for acceptance and, ultimately, the journeys we must all make to find them.”
Mary Morris
“Reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout’s Amy and Isabel, this Orphan Train carries us along until the stories of these two women become one.”
Romantic Times
“This superbly composed novel tells two parallel stories of suffering and perseverance, capturing the heart and mind equally and remaining mesmerizing through the intensely heart-wrenching conclusion.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The intertwined stories in this novel will surely please those looking for a compelling new read.”
Naples Daily News (FL)
“One of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read...I am compelling all of you, even begging you, to make this novel your next read. You’ll be talking about it for years to come!”
The New Maine Times Book Review
“One of the most intriguing, tender novels of 2013...This is a warm, satisfying, and inspirational story.”
New York Times Book Review
“Evocative writing.”
Kirkus Reviews
Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009, etc.) draws a dramatic, emotional story from a neglected corner of American history. Molly is a troubled teen, a foster child bounced from one unsuitable home to another. Vivian is a wealthy 91-year-old widow, settled in a Victorian mansion on the Maine seashore. But Vivian's story has much in common with Molly's. Vivian Daly, born Niamh Power, has gone "from cobblestoned village on the coast of Ireland to a tenement in New York to a train filled with children, steaming westward through farmland, to a lifetime in Minnesota." Vivian's journey west was aboard an "Orphan Train," a bit of misguided 1900s-era social engineering moving homeless, destitute city children, mostly immigrants, into Midwest families. Vivian's journey wasn't entirely happy. She was deposited with the Byrnes, who wanted only child labor in a dressmaking enterprise. Then, as the Great Depression began, Vivian was dumped into the Grote household, where she suffered neglect and abuse. Only after the intervention of a kind teacher did Vivian find a home with a decent, loving family. The story unfolds through chapters set in the present day, with Molly, caught in a minor theft, forced into community service work and agreeing to help Vivian clean an attic. Other chapters flash back to the period from 1929 through World War II. In those decades, Vivian travels West, endures the Byrnes and Grotes, finds a loving home with the Nielsens, reconnects with Dutchy, another orphan-train refugee, marries and is widowed when Dutchy dies in the war. Molly's life story unfolds in parallel--a neglected half–Native American child, whose father was an accident victim and whose mother drowned in drugs and crime--and Molly slowly opens up to Vivian. Kline does a superb job in connecting goth-girl Molly, emotionally damaged by the "toll [of] years of judgment and criticism," to Vivian, who sees her troubled childhood reflected in angry Molly. The realistic narrative follows characters as they change and grow, making a poignant revelation from Vivian entirely believable, as is Molly's response to Vivian's dark secret. A deeply emotional story drawn from the shadows.
From the Publisher

". . . a moving novel . . . Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history,

while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women."

-- Booklist

". . . a heartfelt page-turner about two women finding a sense of home . . . a moving

tale."

-- Publishers Weekly

". . . a compelling story about loss, adaptability, and courage. With compassion

and delicacy Kline presents a little-known chapter of American history and draws

comparisons with the modern-day foster care system."

-- Library Journal

"A gem."

-- Huffington Post

Library Journal
Kline's latest novel (after Bird in Hand) weaves contemporary and historical fiction into a compelling story about loss, adaptability, and courage. Molly is a rebellious 17-year-old foster child sentenced to community service for stealing a copy of Jane Eyre. She finds a position cleaning out the attic of Vivian, an elderly woman in their coastal Maine town. As Molly sorts through old trunks and boxes, Vivian begins to share stories from her past. Born in County Galway, she immigrated to New York City in 1929. When her family perished in a tenement fire, she was packed off on one of the many orphan trains intended to bring children to Midwestern families who would care for them. Each orphan's lot was largely dependent on the luck of the draw. In this, Vivian's life parallels Molly's, and an unlikely friendship blossoms. VERDICT With compassion and delicacy Kline presents a little-known chapter of American history and draws comparisons with the modern-day foster care system. Her accessible, interesting novel will appeal to readers who enjoy the work of Sara Donati. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/12.]—Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061950728
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
278
Sales rank:
756
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
890L (what's this?)

What People are saying about this

Jacquelyn Mitchard
“A book about love and disappointment and risk and risotto, utterly appealing on every level.”
Richard Russo
“Christina Baker Kline is a relentless storyteller. Once she sets her hook and starts reeling you in, struggle becomes counterproductive. The narrative line is too taut, the angler at the other end too skillful.”

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