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Orphan Train: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 2, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1ST edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061950726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061950728
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7,694 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A long journey from home and the struggle to find it again form the heart of the intertwined stories that make up this moving novel. Foster teen Molly is performing community-service work for elderly widow Vivian, and as they go through Vivian’s cluttered attic, they discover that their lives have much in common. When Vivian was a girl, she was taken to a new life on an orphan train. These trains carried children to adoptive families for 75 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the Great Depression. Novelist Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009) brings Vivian’s hardscrabble existence in ­Depression-era Minnesota to stunning life. Molly’s present-day story in Maine seems to pale in comparison, but as we listen to the two characters talk, we find grace and power in both of these seemingly disparate lives. Although the girls are vulnerable, left to the whims of strangers, they show courage and resourcefulness. Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history, while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women. --Bridget Thoreson

Review

“One of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read...I am compelling all of you, even begging you, to make this novel your next read. You’ll be talking about it for years to come!” (Naples Daily News (FL))

“A gem.” (Huffington Post)

“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)

“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)

“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)

“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)

“I loved this book: its absorbing back-and-forth story, its vivid history, its eminently loveable characters. ORPHAN TRAIN wrecked my heart and made me glad to be literate.” (Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys)

“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)

“Christina Baker Kline’s latest wonder, ORPHAN TRAIN, makes for compulsive reading...Meticulously researched and yet full of the breath of life, Kline’s novel takes us on an historical journey where survival depends upon one’s own steely backbone, and the miracle of a large and generous heart.” (Helen Schulman, New York Times-bestselling author of This Beautiful Life)

“A poignant and memorable story of two steadfast, courageous women...A revelation of the universal yearing for belonging, for family, for acceptance and, ultimately, the journeys we must all make to find them.” (Kathleen Kent, New York Times-bestselling author of The Heretic's Daughter and The Traitor's Wife)

“Reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout’s Amy and Isabel, this Orphan Train carries us along until the stories of these two women become one.” (Mary Morris, author of, most recently, Revenge)

“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)

“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)

More About the Author

Christina Baker Kline was born in Cambridge, England, and raised there as well as in the American South and Maine. She is the author of five novels: Orphan Train, Bird in Hand, The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water. She is co-editor, with Anne Burt, of About Face: Women Write about What They See When They Look in the Mirror and co-author, with Christina L. Baker, of The Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk about Living Feminism. She has edited three other anthologies: Child of Mine, Room to Grow, and Always Too Soon. Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University from 2007 to 2011, Kline has also taught literature and creative writing at Yale, NYU, UVA, and Drew University. A graduate of Yale, Cambridge University, and the University of Virginia, where she was a Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing, Kline is a recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship and several research fellowships, and has been a Writer-in-Residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Kline lives with husband and three sons in Montclair, New Jersey. She is at work on another novel and an anthology.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
5,132
4 star
2,001
3 star
437
2 star
72
1 star
52
See all 7,694 customer reviews
A beautiful story and very well written.
sherry beacham
Molly is the present day child in the foster care system and she is the one who brings Vivian's story of the orphan train to life.
MB lover
Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down until I was finished.
Dana Papalia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

592 of 615 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On the coast of Maine lives a wealthy ninety-one year old woman named Vivian Daly. Yet in her attic are trunks that reveal the secrets of her turbulent past.

It is the year 2011, and nearby in the same town of Spruce Harbor, lives a seventeen-year-old girl named Molly Ayer who has bounced from foster home to foster home, and is now in a situation involving petty theft that will require some kind of community service.

Told in beautifully evocative prose, the story unfolds in alternate perspectives, revealing what has happened to each of them, and how the parallel lines of their lives now converge to spotlight the similarities between them.

From Vivian's early childhood in Ireland, to New York City, comes her passage on the Orphan Trains in 1929. A journey that will take her to Minnesota, from one home to another, never really knowing what home feels like, as she is treated like a slave and seldom has enough of anything, much less affection or love.

What Molly sees when she meets the elderly woman is a wealthy person who could not begin to understand her or her issues. But as the two of them clean out the boxes in the attic, the stories they share with one another reveal so much more than either could have suspected.

The characters, both the primary ones and the supporting ones, brought so much color and emotion to the stories that I could feel as though I were sitting in their midst, observing and listening to them. And as I neared the end of Orphan Train: A Novel, I really could not have imagined a more beautiful or satisfying conclusion, and with it came a feeling that these characters would live on in my memories.
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361 of 384 people found the following review helpful By P. Woodland TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
I continue to be amazed at the things I learn about the history of this country from reading books. Orphan Train is based in fact; from the mid 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th century there was no system for dealing with orphans or what we would consider foster children today. It was left to churches and charitable organizations. And for those who feel that they are best left to deal with these social issues, I suggest you research the orphan trains because their solution was to take the children into various cities and give them away to anyone who wanted a child. No background checks, no follow up, no nothing. These children were left with people in the hopes that they would be given a good life. Some were, many were nothing more than house slaves. I'll get off the soapbox now.

The book juxtaposes two lives - that of young Molly, a foster child of the current generation who lives with a family that is divided as to her presence. The "father" is pleasant to her and sees the good in Molly but the "mother" would rather she be gone and in all truth is only doing the foster thing for the money it brings into the household. The second life is that of Vivian - born Niamh, who becomes Dorothy and ultimately Vivian as she is left alone in New York after her family is killed in a fire. She is taken in by Children's Aid and sent West on an Orphan Train to hopefully find a new home. What she finds at first is mistreatment, suspicion and abuse.

While on the train she meets some other orphans one of whom will play an important role in her life. Most of the other characters, though fade into the background as the story focuses on Vivian and Molly and how the two of them reconcile their pasts which are not as different as they might think.
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185 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
THE ORPHAN TRAIN is one of those books you don't want to end. You want it to continue so you can find out even more about the entwined lives of seventeen year old Molly Ayers, Vivian Daly, as well as Jack and his mother Terry Gallant. Eighty two years earlier an unfortunate set of circumstances had placed a nine year old Vivian on the train that would take her from New York City to the plains of Minnesota as one of the more than two hundred thousand children transported to new, and not always better, lives via the Orphan Trains.

Now, fate has once again intervened in the lives of both women as at age 91 Vivian meets Molly, the intelligent but somewhat troubled young woman of Indian heritage living with foster parents who appear to be "in it for the money". As part of a community service assignment, Molly begins to assist Vivian in cleaning out her attic, slowly sorting through the mementos that represent the pieces of Vivian's life she has kept hidden for all these years. As they discover the unexpected correlation in their life experiences and Molly and Vivian develop a true affection for each other.

As the story moves back and forth in time between the late 1920's and present day Maine author Christina Baker Kline's novel explores the subjects of love, adversity, resilience, providence, the workings of the child welfare system, deep and hidden secrets, and how the choices we make can resonate through generations.

As you discover more and more about these characters and their lives, you may certainly question some of their behavior and the decisions they made. While you may not agree with nor understand their actions, they remain endearing folks who stick to your heart like glue so that find yourself accepting their flaws and wishing them well.
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