During the 1800s, many orphaned children rode the orphan trains out west in search of a family. Christina Baker Kline tells the story of a young girl, Vivian Daly, who rode those trains. (Yes, the orphan trains were real, I did look it up.) The story follows her as she makes friends on the train and finds different homes and families to adopt her. The story also follows another young girl in modern times, Molly Ayer. She is a part of the foster system and almost 18-years-old when she starts working for Vivian (who is now 91-years-old), cleaning out her attic. As Molly helps Vivian, they discover they aren’t that different.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
If you enjoy historical fiction, then try this one out! I think it’s an especially fascinating book because it connects the historical with the modern times, making it easier to connect with the characters. The potential is that this book could lead down a path of learning a whole new aspect of American history during the 1800s that seems unexplored by many.
What’s great about reading the Wiki page and then reading Orphan Train is that the kids mentioned on the Wiki page become real in the book. They aren’t just numbers or statistics. They’re real people. That rode those trains. It seems like a completely different world, being such a long time ago, but Christina Baker Kline brings those people to life. And I’ve always been a sucker for books that tell two different stories, each one taking place at a different time.
The only problem I had with this book was some of the characters were stereotypical and cliche. The author spent a lot of time fleshing out the two main characters but seems to have forgotten about some of the side ones. They ended up being a bit too predictable at times. But, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal. It was easy to look past the cliche side characters when the bigger story was so much more interesting.
The author’s writing tells a story, without being too dumbed down and flowery to distract from the story. She tells the stories of the two main characters simply, but well. This could also be a great book for teenagers, as it focuses on a teenager throughout the story.
Overall, I would recommend this to a busy mom. It’s a quick read because the book is short and easy to read. But it’s a wonderful story, set in a time and place that not many people know about. It’s a great story to help others understand adoption and all the emotions behind it for everyone involved. So if you’re looking for a quick, but great historical fiction read, I highly recommend this one!
Four out of five stars
If you enjoyed my review of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, you might also like Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing Orphan Train, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.