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on May 21, 2015
A friend of mine recommended this book to me. I was moved by the experiences of both the young girl and the older woman, Vivian. While I read ORPHAN TRAIN, I felt as if I were experiencing an awakening of both women's hearts with the memories that were shared. This book gives insight into the idea that trust can so easily be shattered in people through harsh experiences, and that it takes special people to break through the walls that others put up to protect themselves.

I also was touched by the two women, who seemed to be so different on the surface, one youthful, angry, Goth, loud and bitter, and the other, elderly, elegant, quiet, thoughtful, and perceptive, both coming together and discovering a thread that held them together.

When Vivian met her daughter, there was closure for me. The last lines felt good, and yet gave the impression that the story would live on. I was glad I read this book. I learned history of the orphan train, which was something I'd never heard of before, which was very insightful. Yet, a more important message that came through for me was that people ought not to judge and rather, learn the whole story when it comes to people we don't understand. We need to know that in these days, there are children much like those from the orphan train, who need others to help them through their messed up lives. This was a wonderful story with a wonderful message.
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on June 7, 2016
This historical novel was well written as the author describes the journeys of many orphaned children in New York City that were sent by train to other states for adoption and the horrific processes these children experienced during the earliest adoption runs. This book was an eye opener for me because I didn't know anything about this happening until reading this book. The author also published the names of these children and the families who adopted them in the counties surrounding where I now live. This list provides people with the ability to track their ancestry if they were related to these orphaned children. The story really touched my heart.
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VINE VOICEon December 24, 2014
ORPHAN TRAIN REVIEW

The orphan train movement in the United States between1853 and 1929 is not a well-known social welfare program. It was sponsored for the most part by the Children's Aid Society and relocated over 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children from the East coast to foster homes in the Midwest. The children ranged in age from 4 to 18; some were even younger. Notices announcing the arrival of the trains were posted in mainly rural areas and residents were invited to view and inspect the children and, if deemed suitable, they could be taken home. The program was ended with the advent of organized foster care in America.

Times were hard, food was scarce, and some children received wretched care from their foster parents. Others were fortunate enough to be received into well-off circumstances. The spectrum of their stories is wide and varied. Christina Baker Kline, author of "Orphan Train," became interested in the story of these children, conducted an enormous amount of research, and has written a beautiful account of an orphan train survivor who bonds in later years with a contemporary young woman who is experiencing personal hardships of her own. And so a seventeen-year old rebel struggling to find her way and a ninety-one year wealthy old lady who survived her early years as a train orphan come together in a touching and healing relationship that develops into a remedy for their mutual loneliness.

Vivian is the survivor of crushing poverty in rural Ireland, the immigrant turmoil of late 1920 in New York City, the loss of her family in a fire, and a subsequent train trip with strangers to a land of poverty, ignorance, mistreatment, and abuse. She is nine-years old when her journey by train begins.

Molly, a contemporary nonconformist, has been in and out of numerous foster homes and refuses to bend to someone else's idea of how to conduct her life. She has a tattoo, piercings, and dyed hair. She has trouble controlling her mouth, getting along with others, and is fiercely independent. Her boyfriend has learned that he is simply along for the ride and operates under Molly's rule.

Molly is given community service for stealing a book from the public library and, as a last resort before she has to serve time, she agrees to help the elderly Vivian clean out her attic. As they work together sorting through the debris of Vivian's past, life's stories are revealed, similar experiences are shared, and closeness develops. Molly provides the steady companionship that Vivian has never enjoyed, and the elderly woman provides encouragement and purpose to Molly's unanchored existence.

This is a marvelous book written with clarity and filled with historical accounts based on careful research. The relationship between the two women as described by the author is poignant and demonstrates the importance of taking time to listen to each other. I enjoyed the book greatly and highly recommend it.

Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
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on March 13, 2014
This is a solid read. Enough history to learn something I didn't previously know, and enough fiction to keep me very interested. I really enjoy reading this genre, and love character development. I recommend it to anyone who won't miss gratuitous sex, and explicit/repetitive/nonsensical violence. It was realistic (how people can treat fellow humans so poorly is an ongoing mystery to me) but it was part of the making of these individuals, and then the greater story of overcoming such adversity. It pulled me into the tale and I enjoyed it immensely.
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on March 27, 2017
Words cannot express how much I loved this book. From the first page I knew that this was going to be a page-turner. Molly's story on its own made me keep on reading. However , the story of Niamh (Dorothy/Vivian) was 10 times more heartbreaking and uplifting than I anticipated. Parts of this book made me cry like a little girl, I felt all the sorrow and the loneliness of our main protagonist. I also felt joy and hope when she finally got what she longed for her entire life.

There is a lesson in this book not lost on me. Regardless of how many twists and turns your life takes, the people and the circumstances, you will end exactly where you were meant to be. It is the choices you make and how you choose to take what life gives you that makes the difference.

It's an amazing story, one that unfortunately has a base in reality. Orphan children thrown into a system that did not care for their well-being, forced to endure abuse and neglect. We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.

This book has inspired me to look for ways to help children like Niamh and Molly. It really kills me to think of the thousands of children enduring similar situations today.
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on January 18, 2016
This gripping page turner based on American history captivates and grips from beginning to end. It left me wrung out, emotionally exhausted yet smiling hopefully at the end. There is enough loss, human rottenness, resignation and stark reality in this book to wipe the smile from any Pollyanna. Yet there are amazing moments when life lightens and sodden emotional clouds part to breathless clarity palpable with hope when a character encounters a healthy connection with someone. In the book, as in life, it takes but few good connections to convince a battered soul into hanging on and keeping on despite the odds. These gritty girls/women survive, find each other through time and we become a tad more enlightened as to USA history and human nature. Orphan Train, A Novel is a really good read. I particularly recommend it for history buffs, genealogists, adoptees, their parents and fostered children of every age.
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on May 4, 2015
I've read other books about this event in history. It is a sad chapter in our nation's history. Treating children like animals at an auction could hardly ever turn out well for anyone. So, that made this story hard to read because of the continuing tragedy and sadness.

Molly's about-change in her attitude was hard for me to relate to....from Goth to normal, given her circumstances, just didn't seem realistic to me. Also, what Vivian does (not wanting to give anything away) is totally unbelievable. When you truly love someone, you want something to remember them by. You don't discard something so precious so as not to be hurt again. In Vivian's case, she clung to the necklace to remember her Gram by, so why would she do what she did? Why wouldn't she keep a reminder of what she loved best in all the world? Seemed too unlikely. And, the ending was just a little too happy and perfect given the circumstances..
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on March 31, 2016
This book was unlike anything else I'd read lately, so I really enjoyed it. It bounces back and forth between the present and the past, in a way that's easy to follow. The present is the story of a teenager in the foster system who works with an older lady to finish some community service hours. The past is the story of a girl whose family dies in a fire and is sent on an orphan train to the midwest to be adopted. I loved the ways these two stories intertwined throughout the book, and even though they are set in such different time periods/places, there are so many similarities between these two girls' lives. I had no idea the orphan train was a real thing! Though this book is fiction, it opened my eyes to a piece of history that was new to me.
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on November 25, 2014
Maybe my expectations were too high after reading other reviews but I found the mainframe story of Molly the goth foster kid to be painfully cliche. Sprinkled with the occasional awkward profanity or sexual encounter to convince of her wayward nature, it was trite and predictable and read like a second-tier Hallmark Hall of Fame movie or Maeve Binchy novel. The flashback story of Niamh was much more engaging and was like a poor shadow of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I skipped much of the present-tense story to find out what happened to the character I kind of cared about and called that good.
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on September 27, 2014
Totally unexpected , this book came to me as a BookClub choice. A page turner, , is also a 2 hour movie on You Tube...seeing that incerased the enjoyment of this very good book, about over 200,000 youngsters, abandoned for various cause in New York late 1899's who lived on the streets, in alleys and under bridges...making out as best as hey could...heartbreaking reality, and about the bright souls that figured out a way to help them
by gettting a car on the railroad that was fit for storage, very spare, stopping at locations, getting off at stopsto allow them to be " taken", and going on , the train route, until all were "taken. There was a Newspaper man involved who sent word ahead, telling of the ?Ophan Train."
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