Orphan Train

In My Book Club Books on July 26, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Book Club Selection for August 2014


 by Christina Baker Kline

Historical Fiction/©2013/273 Pages

Publisher’s Comments (Goodreads):

Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.

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 by Christina Baker Kline 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.

My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that I couldn’t read fast enough. I found the story engaging and the information about the orphan train enlightening. I liked how the author alternated between Vivian’s earlier life and what was happening in the present. I liked Vivian and Molly, especially with how they managed to get through all they did and still retain a good sense of themselves,  and I liked the ending, even though some would say it was as neat and predictable as can be. It was an informative, satisfying read. It was rich in details and emotions and thoughtful quotes. It is a book that I think I could get even more meaning from with a second read.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Club Thoughts and Insights:

We all agreed that it was a great choice – compelling plot, interesting characters, well written. None of us had been aware of the history of orphan trains before reading this book. We were shocked by how long it lasted and just couldn’t figure out how our country had been able to justify it. We had a long discussion about that and how we, as a society, value children, then and now. We went on to talk about the characters.  We didn’t have anything nice to say about the social worker, Mr. Sorensen. How could he have left Vivian with the Grote family and then seriously considered taking her back there after she had run away and told him exactly what had happened? Though we did acknowledge what a difficult job being a social worker is now and so it most likely had similar restraints then. Still…

We really liked Molly and Vivian and ached for all both had been through. We admired their strength for being able to get through it all and not give up. An added plus for us was that both Molly and Vivian were avid readers. We loved that connection between the two characters. We talked about Duchy and how heartbreaking it was to have found him and then lost him again. We tried to understand how she could give up her child, especially considering her earlier situation, and could only come up with the unbearable grief she was going through after the loss of her husband.  We talked about Molly and how she thought it important to reunite Vivian with her daughter, but how she was wasn’t ready to reunite with her own mother. Considering the circumstances of both situations, we agreed it was a smart move on her part.

We totally got drawn into the story and the characters and definitely considered this a very good read.

Book Club Rating; 5/5 Stars

Related Links:

Book Club Menu

A Bounty of Choices That Vivian Would Have Enjoyed

Vegetable Tray with Green Hummus and Irish Cheese Spread

Fig andArugula Salad

Fruit Tray with Bailey’s Irish Cream Dipping Sauce




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