Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline - 278 pages
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.
My Review: 3.5 stars
The history in this book was amazing. A subject I knew little about, Orphan Trains, were brought to life with wonderful detail and emotion. I highly enjoyed Vivian’s story and her history on the Orphan Train, yet was not nearly as invested in Molly’s life in present day. The author highlighted their similarities, (orphans/foster care/finding a home), however much more insight, minutiae and mystery surrounded Vivian. Molly was more of a vessel to get to Vivian’s story rather than an equal protagonist as the book jacket suggests. Good writing and interesting historical fiction makes this a short, easy and interesting read.
Quotes I liked:
- “I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is - a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.”
- “I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I’m learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel. I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.”
- “The things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin.”
- “I learned long ago that loss is not only probable, but inevitable.”
- “My entire life has felt like chance. Random moments of loss and connection. This is the first one that feels, instead, like fate.”
Tags: 2013, Historical Fiction, Book Club
Labels: 2013, Book Club, Historical Fiction