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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Orphan Train | Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train is a fictional book that tells the stories of two orphans: a ninety-one year old woman, Vivian, and a seventeen year old girl, Molly.  Though their lives may seem very different from the outside, they share very similar pasts. For a more complete summary, you can go here.

When I first started this book, I was more drawn to Molly’s story line than Vivian’s. Vivian’s story just started out slowly. As the book went on, Vivian’s story got more dynamic and interesting, and I actually really appreciated the parallels between their lives. However, it did get confusing at times and was hard to keep track of what happened in which person’s past. There were also a lot of names, so it was hard to keep track. I actually had to go back to look up some names from earlier in the book. 

My favorite part of this book was when Vivian realizes that each piece in her life is a stepping stone—good or bad. Without each of those events, she would have never ended up exactly where she is now. That is a theme that resonates with my own life. The hard, the good, the bad, the fun—each of those things in my life has been the path that has guided me to where I am now. It is a realistic, but positive way to reflect on your life. 

I usually don’t enjoy historical fiction, but I found this really interesting. It tied in a lot of important historical events into one book (i.e. the Great Depression and World War II). It was also fascinating to learn about the orphan trains, which was an actual occurrence. I wonder what the U.S. would be like if we still sent orphans all over the country via trains to find homes. 

I liked how everything comes full circle at the end, but the author made it seem like everyone on the orphan trains eventually lived a happy life, which is probably not accurate. I’m sure some of them never made it out of poverty or depression. On the other hand, I’m sure that not every foster parent was simply looking for an indentured servant, which is how the author made it seem. There realistically would have been a mix of great and horrible foster families, and everything in between. 

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a story about troubled pasts, or anyone looking for a historical fiction book. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

 ****   4/5 Stars