Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Kline's absorbing new novel (after Bird in the Hand) is a heartfelt page-turner about two women finding a sense of home. Seventeen-year-old Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer has spent most of her life in foster care. When she's caught stealing a copy of Jane Eyre from the library, in an effort to keep the peace with her stressed foster parents, she ends up cleaning out elderly Vivian Daly's attic. Molly learns that Vivian was herself an orphan, an Irish immigrant in New York who was put on the Orphan Train in the late 1920s and tossed from home to home in Minnesota. The growing connection leads Molly to dig deeper into Vivian's life, which allows Molly to discover her own potential and helps Vivian rediscover someone she believed had been lost to her forever. Chapters alternate between Vivian's struggle to find a safe home, both physically and emotionally, in early 20th-century Minnesota, and Molly's similar struggle in modern-day Maine. Kline lets us live the characters' experiences vividly through their skin, and even the use of present tense, which could distract, feels suited to this tale. The growth from instinct to conscious understanding to partnership between the two is the foundation for a moving tale. Agent: Beth Vesel, the Beth Vesel Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“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.” Marisa de los Santos, New York Times-bestselling author of Belong to Me and Falling Together
“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.” Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
“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.” Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times-bestselling author of The Painted Girls
“A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history. Beautiful.” Ann Packer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Swim Back to Me
"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." Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and That Old Cape Magic
"Evocative writing." New York Times Book Review
"A story about the way life really can be, with a little bit of luck and just the right seasoning." Dani Shapiro on < i=""> The Way Life Should Be <>
“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.” Romantic Times, Top Pick
“Absorbing...a heartfelt page-turner about two women finding a sense of home...Kline lets us live the characters experiences vividly through their skin...The growth from instinct to conscious understanding to partnership between the two is the foundation for a moving tale.” Publishers Weekly
“Kline draws a dramatic, emotional story from a neglected corner of American history.” Kirkus Reviews
“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
“The intertwined stories in this novel will surely please those looking for a compelling new read.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“One of the most intriguing, tender novels of 2013....This is a warm, satisfying, and inspirational story.” The New Maine Times Book Review
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.
About the Author
Christina Baker Kline is the author of five novels, including Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be. Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University from 2007-2011, Kline is a recent recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship and several research fellowships (to Ireland and Minnesota), and has been a Writer-in-Residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives with husband and three sons in Montclair, New Jersey, and spends as much time as possible in northern Minnesota and on the coast of Maine, where she grew up.