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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Orphan Train
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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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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.

At one point, Molly is at Vivian's home, taking in her recent good fortune:

"Sitting in the rocker in the kitchen, looking out at the water, Molly feels oddly at peace. For the first time since she can remember, her life is beginning to make sense. What up until this moment has felt like a random, disconnected series of unhappy events she now views as necessary steps in a journey toward...enlightenment is perhaps too strong a word, but there are others, less lofty, like self-acceptance and perspective...."

It is impossible to read this story and not take away from it the knowledge that wonderfully unexpected moments can happen in a life, even in one that is full of turbulence, pain, loss, and the sense of being an outsider. And when such moments occur, it is also impossible not to celebrate. Or feel the sense of exuberance that comes with the gifts of love, acceptance, and second chances. A story with a perfect ending that I won't share here, for fear of spoiling it for the reader. Suffice it to say that you will love Vivian and Molly and will feel the joy of their unique connection. Five stars.
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on February 14, 2017
I noticed all the good reviews and publicity surrounding ORPHAN TRAIN when the book was first published a few years ago. I had ORPHAN TRAIN on my To Be Read list but never got around to reading the novel. I knew the book was based on true stories of children shipped across America in the early part of the last century. When I saw the book was available for review, I signed up pronto, wondering why the publisher was sending it on tour again years later.
I learned on the very first page entitled “Dear Reader” that Christina Baker Kline decided to revamp the book (or a certain situation in the book) slightly due to reader feedback. As she says, she “would have the chance to fix small errors, update factual information, clarify and sharpen the language in places, and – most important – add a scene that I’ve long regretted not including.” Ms. Kline even mentioned Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory in her letter to the reader.
The book was definitely a “could not put down” experience for me. I read it over the course of three days only because I had events to attend over a weekend or I probably would have finished it half that time.
ORPHAN TRAIN was a mix of favorite childhood books of mine such as ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, HEIDI, and UNDERSTOOD BETSY, and Ms. Kline used the L.M. Montgomery Anne book in her story. Niamh (pronounced Neev) was an Irish immigrant girl sent on an orphan train from New York City to Minnesota in the late 1920s. At the same time, the book is the 2011 story of Molly, a high-school teen getting ready to age out of foster care in New England. Niahm, changed to Dorothy and then to Vivian, and Molly meet unexpectedly when Molly is tasked with helping 91-year-old Vivian clean out her attic to get in community service hours for stealing a library book. This situation proved to be cathartic and affirming for both Molly and Vivian.
I thought Ms. Kline presented a wonderful story of historical fiction using flashbacks of Vivian’s life intertwined with a believable foster child in today’s system.
At the end of the new version, an author interview and reading group guide are presented, as well as a short history on the orphan trains.
ORPHAN TRAIN is now a personal favorite and one of my most highly recommended book I have reviewed.
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on May 31, 2014
Vivian is an elderly, childless widow who has a story to tell, but no one who is interested in listening. Molly is a foster child, bounced from family to family. She has become jaded over the years, but still has a good heart buried deep inside. Through a series of events, Molly finds herself needing to work off some community service hours. The mother of her boyfriend works for Vivian as housekeeper, and wants someone, anyone, to get Vivian into her overstuffed attic and clean it out.

What starts out as an assignment in which Molly merely expects to serve out her time turns into a much deeper experience for her. As each box in the attic is opened, Vivian begins to talk about the significance of each item, and through her eyes Molly (and we) see the reality of the Orphan Train experience.

As Vivian relates her life, from Irish immigrant child, to the loss of her family in a tragic fire, to the forced move west on the Orphan Train and the sadness and happiness that come from that, we see Molly grow as well. She, who started out at as cynical and detached, opens up to Vivian and begins to enjoy their time together. In the end, she orchestrates a reunion for Vivian that is both touching and unexpected.

This is a good read. The characters are well developed over the length of the book. The story is engaging, and is true to the period (both flash-back and current). I recommend.
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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 February 27, 2016
For 75 yrs mid 19th century through the depression the City of New York came up with the idea to put homeless children/orphans on trains headed out to the MidWest to be adopted by families. Orphan Train is based on this hisory and it's about a ficticious little girl who was put on the orphan train and what heppened to her. It really starts when she is an elderly lady and hires a teen-aged foster child to hep her clean her attic where all of these meories come out when they go through all her stuff. It is realistic and makes you wonder about all those kids - makes you think about how it would feel to live in a house where everyone is family but you and knowing that you have no family left. Most of these kids were taken to use as laborers and not even sent to school. The people taking them were not checked out at all and no follow up was done unless they wanted to give the child back. They would stop the train in various towns and line the kids up to be checked out by the people in the town who were interested in them. A little paperwork was done and they were taken. If all the children weren't chosen they went on to the next town and did the same process.
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on August 12, 2017
This story is based on our American history. An Penobseot Indian, Molly Ayes, known as Molly in the story is an orphan in the orphanage and foster home system. Molly has to work several community service hours before her record is clear in the system. A 91 year old woman, Vivian is willing to help Molly providing Molly is willing to work. They come to an agreement Vivian needs her attic cleaned out and when they finish Mollys records will be clean.

The two start going through boxes and trunks in the attic. As the two women work together they become friends. They both are amazed at the number of boxes and trunks that are in the attic. The boxes and trunks are full of mysteries, stories, secrets and treasures as they unpack, clean out and repack all the treasures are revealed

I enjoyed the story that crosses into two centuries. Although these are fictional characters they represent people that lived in the past. A well written book about our history of our past.
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on November 9, 2016
A story that very well could have been based on facts??? This parallel story between a modern day girl that is caught up in the system and an older woman that had been on one of the orphans from an orphan train and caught up in that system. Circumstances cause situations that were often beyond the control of the person involved. The interwoven stories showed restoration and hope for both characters. I didn't like the fact the not telling the truth was reinforced in several situations but I have no alternative solutions to prevent the lies. The ending was awesome!!!
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on September 30, 2016
Molly became an orphan following the death of her father and her mother's decent into a world of drugs and alcohol. Her world is a mess as a result of being passed from foster home to foster home and a teenage mistake that results in her being assigned 50 hours of community service. Vivian is 91 years old and is an Irish immigrant who became orphaned during the great depression. The lives of both women are changed forever when they come together as a result the community service project assigned to Molly.

It would truly be a shame if I gave this book anything less than a five-stare rating. Books having strong, believable characters are fairly common but it is rare when you read a book that has true depth. As Molly and Vivian reflect on their past, we experience a heart-warming story that depicts the desperation and suffering people faced during the great depression. Will our journey through time with Molly and Vivian end in disaster or will it show the reader once again that clouds do sometimes have a silver lining? Only the reader will know.

An excellent read .. I highly recommend this book.
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