Orphan Train

Thoughts opbycbk by Christina Baker Kline, William Morrow Paperbacks 2013, 278 pages

Challenge:  Newcomers Book Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit? Historical Fiction?
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library (and then I received it as a gift! THEN, I sent it to my MIL.)
 Why I read this now: Club is Thursday May 5

Vivian is an elderly lady living in a big house all alone in Maine when, through the efforts of her housekeeper, she meets a High School foster kid named Molly who needs to do some service hours or be sent to juvie. Molly had attempted to steal a beat up copy of Pride and Prejudice from the library.

Molly is hard and bitter but she and Vivian find they have much to talk about as they go through Vivian’s boxes and trunks in the attic. Vivian finds a confidant and begins to tell Molly the stories of her life – stories she hadn’t had a chance or desire to ever share before.

Vivian was an Irish immigrant to NYC when a tragedy occurs and she is separated from her family. She ends up on a train to Minnesota with other orphans. The story is based on historical facts of the “Orphan Train” which shipped kids west to families that could support or use child labor and thus ‘save’ them from horrible fates of living on the streets and slums.

It’s a short book that offers a glimpse into how hard life was for everyone at the turn of the 20th century up through the Depression era. I wouldn’t call it a sentimental book but I did cry. I thought it ended rather abruptly and wanted to know more about the fate of Molly and Vivian in the present time line.

This was the second book I’ve read by Christina Baker Kline, the first being The Way Life Should Be. I might be a sucker for books set in Maine.


RATING: Four slices of pie. Lots of pie references!  ‘Baking pies’ on one page, Sausage Pie on another page and then Rhubarb Tart…

“In places I have to crunch through the top layer of snow, [sic] as pie crust.”•
  • I don’t have the book and I think I typed the quote incorrectly. Is it THICK as PIE CRUST or was it SLICK as pie crust? Anyone have the book to verify? page 153…



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8 thoughts on “Orphan Train

  1. Yours is the first review that’s made me kind of want to pick this one up. I’m at least considering it! Another book dealing with the Orphan Train is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. I loved it. It’s got a lot of other story lines going on besides the Orphan Train one, though. Have you read that?

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