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Orphan Train

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4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  194,937 Ratings  ·  20,564 Reviews
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Dalal I have read this book and recommend it very informative
Mary Cummings Yes, it's based on factual events in history, but the characters and some places are fictional.
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily May
Apr 25, 2016 Emily May rated it really liked it
"In my nightmares I am alone on a train, heading into the wilderness. Or in a maze of hay bales. Or walking the streets of a big city, gazing at lights in every window, seeing the families inside, none of them mine."

After my book club chose Orphan Train for our next meet-up, I picked up my copy and started reading just a little of the first page to get a "feel" for what the book would be like. I didn't intend to finish it right now, or even read any more than the first page, but I somehow ende
...more
Rachel
Dec 03, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
As a Midwesterner, I was really interested in this book after hearing it featured on NPR. However, it was ruined by a small, and to some, insignificant character and narrative. The main narrative about Vivian, an Orphan Train rider, was excellent. The second narrative of Molly, a teen foster child, is marred by the way the author, Christina Baker Kline, portrays her oppressive foster mom.

"...Dina listens to conservative talk radio, belongs to a fundamentalist Christian church, and has a "Guns d
...more
Marla Mutch
Apr 20, 2013 Marla Mutch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, novel
When I was 16 my Great Aunt Pauline told me the saddest true story. I asked her about her background, she was of Polish decent in a completely German town in Washington State. She told me that when her family came over from Poland her mother had pink eye, and was sent back to Poland to try again. She was pregnant and when she got back, she had a child that was not listed on the papers. She put the baby in a suitcase to keep the officials at Ellis Island from finding her and separating her again. ...more
Jennifer
Apr 12, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Before I became a foster/adoptive parent, I would have ranked this book much higher. But it rankled that yet another novel characterizes a foster mom as racist, shrill, emotionally abusive, and selfish. Oh, and the foster parents are just in it for the money.

And of course Molly is just misunderstood, with no serious behavioral problems or alienating qualities. Except for a nose ring (gasp!), and a tendency to steal high-brow literature (oh my!).

And of course, everyone ends up happy and joyful
...more
Diane Yannick
Oct 05, 2014 Diane Yannick rated it it was ok
I find the orphan trains to be an interesting/horrifying time in our history. I thought this book would give me a deeper understanding of what it was like to be a child enslaved by this plan concocted by the Children's Aid Society. Instead, I found this to be a fluffy, shallow story chock full of huge stereotypes. Let's see, we have the sexually perverted foster dad, the Goth girl, the upstanding drafted man, the 91 year old lady who hoarded her life in the attic. Each character was painted with ...more
B the BookAddict
Nov 08, 2015 B the BookAddict rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR

The real truth behind this wonderful story is actually quite awful in magnitude. Between 1854 and 1929, more than 200,00 homeless, orphaned or abandoned children were sent to the Midwest: ostensibly for adoption but often more became indentured servitude, to people who wanted a worker rather than a child. It is a little known fact of America's history and one I knew nothing about. I love it when an author sends me hurrying to Google in order to learn more about certain facts I've learned from t
...more
Hanna Gichard
Jun 17, 2013 Hanna Gichard rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
From what I can tell, this book is not classified primarily as a young adult novel. It definitely should be. The writing style is very simplistic and elementary, which is fine for a YA book. I was just expecting something a little more adult in terms of the writing style.

That said, I think the subject of the book is very interesting. I found Vivian/Niamh's story fascinating, and I learned a lot about something in our country's history I knew nothing about. The ending was a little too neat and co
...more
Jules
Dec 03, 2013 Jules rated it it was ok
I was going to say this book reads like a YA novel, but then I realized that is an insult to some really well-written YA novels (The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, Flowers for Algernon...)

Like many other readers, I thought the book had potential with a very interesting subject (orphan trains), but the writing was amateurish, with incredibly stereotypical characters, a predictable plot and way too much sentimentality. I doubted throughout the book that the author had any firsthand experience with
...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Apr 02, 2013 Meg - A Bookish Affair rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. "Orphan Train" is a book set in both the present day and the late 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Vivian traveled from NYC to Minnesota as a young girl on one of the infamous "orphan trains" that was used to get orphans out of the cities into the country where they might have a better opportunity to find families and to be able to make a good life. I've read a couple fictional accounts of what these orphan trains were like and it always amazes me that there was something like that in this co ...more
Theresa
"Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline completely tugged at my heartstrings. Vivian and Molly might have a huge age gap between them, (Vivian is 91, Molly is 17) but both these sweet and sensitive ladies share a similar childhood. Both come from toxic families, and were later placed in foster care after becoming orphans. I found myself drawn to Vivian's chapters more than Molly's (not that Molly's chapters were boring or anything). Vivian's turbulent life aboard the orphan train had me in tears ...more
Candi
Oct 25, 2015 Candi rated it really liked it
"They call this an orphan train, children, and you are lucky to be on it. You are leaving behind an evil place, full of ignorance, poverty, and vice, for the nobility of country life."

This was a very interesting story about a piece of American history that was previously unknown to me. According to the author, between the years 1854 and 1929, two-hundred thousand orphaned or abandoned children were transported from the East coast to the Midwest on these so-called orphan trains. They were suppose
...more
Monika330
Dec 03, 2013 Monika330 rated it did not like it
With some tweaking and editing, this might be a good young adult book as that's how it reads. I certainly didn't find it an adult book. I was disappointed that more history and information about orphan trains wasn't included. The author did appear to do her research, so I'm not sure why she chose not to include more of it.

The book was painfully predictable. I knew pages beforehand what Groate was going to do. At the first hint of hint of World War II, I knew what would happen to Luke. Dina was l
...more
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
Oct 18, 2015 Debbie "DJ" Wilson rated it really liked it
I listened to this one instead of reading, and think reading is the way to go. While still really liking the story, the narration just wasn't great. That being said, there's just no way to go wrong with this book. I had never heard of these "Orphan Trains," and still find it heartbreaking to see just how horribly humans can treat one another, especially children. These trains, carrying homeless, abandoned, and orphaned kids ran for many years, up until 1929. While supposedly helping find kids ho ...more
Diane S ☔
Apr 20, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
I had known about the Orphan trains and had even read a few previous books on that subject. What I did not know was that these orphan trains actually ran for over seventy years, from 1854 until 1929 and that some two hundred thousand children were put on these trains. Of course not all of them found a loving family, many were treated like indentured servants, and many were abused. In present day, Molly who is 17, a foster child, is given community service for attempting to steal a book from the ...more
Margitte
Troubled 17-year-old Penobscot Indian girl, Molly Ayer, moves from foster home to foster home after her father died in a car accident and her mom disappeared into her own haven of drugs and damnation.

Molly is found guilty of a misdemeanor and has to do community service, which brings her in contact with 91-year-old Vivian Daly, who had more with Molly in common than she could ever imagine. Both were orphaned, but in different eras and both had a story to tell.

Orphans were like turtles. They ca
...more
Nicole
Dec 03, 2013 Nicole rated it it was ok
This is another one of those "this book could have been so much better" books. I enjoyed learning about the orphan train and the experiences of those who were forced to ride them. I also enjoyed the relationship between 17-yr-old Molly and 91-yr-old Vivian, both of whom were orphans. So far, so good. But nearly all the foster families were exactly the same: strong-willed wives who didn't want to foster children married to milquetoast husbands who (for some reason) did. Whether in the 20's or pre ...more
Ruth
Jul 22, 2013 Ruth rated it it was amazing
I received this book for my birthday and it was not one that I had heard about. I jumped in and looked at the description and looked forward to reading it. I do enjoy historical fiction where the writer has done a lot of research and you learn about a period in history.

Life was tough in New York City and the east coast. In information at the back of the book, it said that their might be ten thousand orphans living on the streets of New York during this time period. I would think that the orphan
...more
Linda O'Donnell F.
Reading Orphan Train was like lifting the curtain on a part of our American history that many people are still unaware of. Thousands of children, the orphaned and the unwanted, were transported from cities of the East to the farmlands and small towns of the Midwest at the turn of the century and on into the Great Depression. It was a time of no background screening, minimal paperwork, and only a willingness to alleviate the hoards of children who were homeless for a multitude of reasons. While s ...more
Kathy
Dec 03, 2013 Kathy rated it it was ok
Orphan Train is an unfortunate train wreck of generic, formulaic, historical fiction plotting and all the subtlety and nuance of a Mack truck. It's got a great premise - the orphan trains were a real part of American history. Orphaned children were loaded up on trains by well-intentioned Children's Aid workers and marched off at various stops in the midwest and west where families would look them over and decide whether to keep them as foster children or eventually adopt them. It's not too much ...more
Chrissie
Nov 05, 2015 Chrissie rated it liked it
I am pleasantly surprised by Orphan Train. Some of the lines are very well written. The book is told from the perspective of two young girls, each in their own way orphans, one living in contemporary times and the other back during the years of the Depression. The historical thread is based on the orphan trains that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes in rural areas of the Midwest. The central theme is however how it feels t ...more
Melanie
Feb 27, 2016 Melanie rated it really liked it
I loved this book :-). I had never heard of the Orphan Trains so it was great to learn something while reading. The parts of the book set in the past were my favorite although I did like Molly's story as well. I had a few tears at the end. Looking forward to the movie :-).
Stephanie
May 28, 2015 Stephanie rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-2015
Orphan Train is an educational and emotional read!

This book is set in the Depression era and focuses on the story of a train that delivered over 200,000 children (orphans) from the East Coast to the Midwest from the mid-1800's to the Depression. Instead of finding these children loving homes, this process often resulted in children working on farms or in factories (for little or no wages) or being abused. "The system" didn't care! Parts of the book are shocking as you recognize how little these
...more
Lou
May 22, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing
This is a story involving a real period in history when children, who were orphaned or just given away, had been put on train from one state to another state of the U.S.A. into the care of a new family.
The children in this story were intrusted to families in many cases to help with household chores or cheap labor and the family was supposedly to give in return food, shelter and schooling. The sad fates on the children in this tale make hard reading and the negligence of those that handed them ov
...more
Sharon
Aug 15, 2013 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-read
Orphan Train is a beautifully written story.

This is a story about 91 year old Vivian who as a child was orphaned and placed on the "Orphan Train".
Vivian tells her story of being adopted and how she is mistreated throughout her childhood.

Then there is Molly who is 17 and has lived in many foster homes.
Molly must do 50 hours of community service and this is where she crosses paths with 91 year old Vivian.

Vivian lives in a mansion where she has an attic that needs cleaning out.The attic is filled b
...more
Laz
Apr 02, 2016 Laz rated it liked it
This is one these books that do wonders for your reading slump but that doesn't mean I loved it. It has its flaws, certainly, but overalls it's a well-structured novel about loss and finding your place in the world.

On the one hand, you have the teenager who's in and out of juvie. She can't fit in, she's the odd man out. And on the other hand, you have the 90-something lady whose memories you relive, who came from Ireland to the USA after losing her family, to be fostered into three different fam
...more
KatieMc
Feb 14, 2015 KatieMc rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Orphan Train Wreck

The book I just read was terrible. It’s so bad, I thought that I might be the victim a literary candid camera type gag, where I would get to the last page and read “HA HA HA… you just read the fake parody version of Orphan Train.” Everything about this book was bad. Each and every character was straight out of central casting. The plot was predictable, rushed and overcrowded with stuff. If you saw any of my updates, you will know that the writing was gratuitously descriptive an
...more
Lisa Vegan
Jan 26, 2014 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Laura
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though I don’t think it was perfect. I found it riveting from beginning to end. The writing is lyrical, the storytelling skillful, the characters compelling.

I liked the historical sections the most, but I fully warmed up to the contemporary sections and thought how they were connected was brilliantly done.

This is a wonderful story that shows the power of good and caring teachers, the positive influence of mentoring, and the healing that can occur when talking
...more
Lisa
May 03, 2014 Lisa rated it did not like it
Just so you know I read the entire book even though it was painful because I wanted to give a review that reflected the whole story.

Here are some of my thoughts in no particular order:

1. The first thing you learn when writing fiction is: show, don't tell. Perhaps the author was absent that day because the telling parts of Orphan Train were glaring like the noonday sun. At times I felt like I was reading a history textbook.

2. Then there was the excessive use of similes. I had this picture in my
...more
Carol Brill
Nov 13, 2014 Carol Brill rated it really liked it
Orphan Train is a well written story and compelling read about friendship, hope, and finding family.
In Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline seamlessly weaves together two stories from different time periods and two character’s points of view. Along the way, she infuses just enough history about the trains that carried Orphans across the county from 1854 to 1929 in search of new families to intrigue without belaboring the story.
On the surface Molly and Vivian, the two point-of-view characters, s
...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Two women from different eras but with similar life stories. How will that friendship progress?

You will be mesmerized by this book that is based on a true part of American history. ORPHAN TRAIN has magnificent detail and a wonderful storyline. I was pulled in within five pages. The two alternating time periods telling about the lives of Vivian and Molly is beautifully told. They are two appealing and well-developed characters that you want to know more about and won't be disappointed in what yo
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Fresh*Reads: Vivian & Her History-filled Attic 7 9 10 hours, 43 min ago  
Fresh*Reads: Vivian and Molly - The Power of Perspective 5 7 Apr 28, 2016 10:50AM  
Fresh*Reads: Ready for the weekend? 5 8 Apr 25, 2016 10:41AM  
Fresh*Reads: Niamh/Dorothy/Vivian - what do these names represent? 4 8 Apr 25, 2016 10:40AM  
Fresh*Reads: Molly & Niamh - 50 pgs in 4 9 Apr 20, 2016 09:12PM  
Bookworm Bitches : June 2014: Orphan Train 28 175 Apr 14, 2016 09:14PM  
Around the Year i...: Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline 11 45 Apr 13, 2016 08:17AM  
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  • The Secrets of Mary Bowser
  • Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project
  • The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
  • Etched in Sand: A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island
  • Whistling Past the Graveyard
  • The Kitchen House
  • The Lost Wife
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  • The Promise of Stardust
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Christina Baker Kline, the author of five novels, grew up in Maine, England, and the American South. She is married to a Midwesterner whose family history inspired her new novel, Orphan Train (April). Set in present-day Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train highlights the real-life story of the trains that between 1854 and 1929 carried more than 200,000 abandoned children from the East ...more
More about Christina Baker Kline...

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“I've come to think that's what heaven is- a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.” 104 likes
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