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Has parallel plot lines going on, not normally my favorite style, but this one was actually pretty good. Just the right amount of suspense and kept you reading.
I rather enjoyed reading this book.
The book alternates between Vivian's (when she was a child) and Molly's (teenager) point of view and lives. Vivian's story is especially interesting because there really were orphan trains that transport children across the USA during the early 1900s, and you get to hear some of her experiences with different 'families'. Every place she stayed at, helped shaped who she ultimately became. Despite the harsh circumstances (basically slave labour at this sewing place, mistreatments by the foster parents, attempted sexual assault, etc), Vivian pulled through
Molly is trying hard to make it through. She too has gone through some tough circumstances and situations. She ends up 'volunteering' at Vivian's to help clean out her attic when she was caught stealing an old library book. As Molly and Vivian bond, you can clearly see the two are very similar in a lot of ways...where circumstances have forced them to be tough, build a wall around them to keep themselves safe, are actually very nice hearted people and willing to trust the right people when the time comes.
I wasn't a huge fan of Molly's foster mom, she seems too outrageous and exaggerated, but then again there are all sorts of people out there. Just happy that Molly and Vivian have each other to turn to at times.
When 17-year-old Molly Ayer is sentenced to 50 hours of community service for stealing a library book, she helps Vivian Daly, a 91-year-old widow, clean out the boxes in her attic. As Molly, a foster child, becomes more involved with the job, she learns that Vivian (nee Niamh and then briefly Dorothy) also has a background as an unwanted child. As she delves more into Vivian's boxes, Vivian's painful early years as an orphan train rider and bad placements are revealed. When a crisis occurs in Molly's current foster home, Vivian provides the key that also unlocks Molly's heart. This exceptional novel runs two periods of history on parallel tracks until they merge at a point where both Molly and Vivian can join together as one. This is the July 2018 selection of the Willa Cather Book Club.
A real eye opener for anyone not familiar with this period in American history. My heart was full for all these poor boys and girls. A well written novel and a recommended read.
Heartwarming and heartbreaking story following two characters from different eras. Loved how the women's lives and souls intertwined. Very well crafted novel about a period in history most of us knew nothing about.
Just delightful. One of those books that as you read you keep noticing how close you are getting to the end and regret there are not more pages. A wonderful format that switches back and forth between two periods in American history with characters that seem real and that you grow to love and understand, flaws and all. If you liked "A Gentleman in Moscow" you should like this book.
Molly is close to “aging out” of foster care. She gets a job assisting an elderly woman with cleaning out her house, which brings up memories and mysteries.
A heartbreaking narrative with two threads -- one in the present and one in the distant past. Vivian Daly was an Irish orphan named Niamh who was sent west on an orphan train in 1929. Molly is in the Maine foster system and has been bounced from one home to another growing more cynical with each move. She is caught stealing a library book and her community service assignment is helping Vivian clean out her attic. While they go through Vivian's boxes, her story is told and they realize they have mouch in common.
There was much I loved about this book. The dual narratives fit well together and it was clear that the two characters brought out the best in each other. Of the two stories being told, I definitely preferred Vivian's. What I was disappointed in was Molly's story. It seemed like her foster mother was a hopeless caricature -- too many traits thrown together that did not all seem to fit. There were also some details thrown in like an intimate encounter with Jack that did not seem to move the story forward. I would have also like to see some closure on Molly's story that mirrored what we saw in Vivians's.
Definitely a good book group selection!
Top notch. Christina Baker Kline is a master storyteller. Each storyline blended and complimented the other. Remarkable, endearing characters. An excellent conclusion. Some unpleasant characters that contributed to the plot development, even though they were despicable. Highly recommend as not only an entertaining read, but an enlightening
introduction to part of history that I was unaware of before this book.
This was a good read. The main part of the story begins in 1929 in America. A girl moves with her family from Ireland to New York City & then through a fire ends up losing her family & becomes an orphan. From there she ends up on an orphan train that runs out to the farmlands in the Midwest of America. This is part of Americas true history. Some times the stories ended well for the children & sometimes it was tragic.
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.
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.
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
Heart warming book. Enjoyed seeing the relationships unfurl. Ended too soon. Almost want to read again.
Easy fast read of this historical fiction book. Love the story of friendship and the study of how people grow and change.
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.
Enjoyed the historical content
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.
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.
A wonderful story of friendship that grows from unexpected unions, Orphan Train is a must read for lovers of all fiction, especially historic.
I could see this being made into a movie on the Hallmark Channel. I found this novel overly simplistic.
Kline does a fabulous job meshing together two stories told in two different time periods. Orphan train is an intriguing account of two women and their quest to find normalcy in a world that is not their own. The historical element of the orphan train draws in the untold stories of many young orphan children in the 1920s.