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A Family Apart (Orphan Train Adventures, #1)
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A Family Apart (Orphan Train Adventures #1)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,133 ratings  ·  85 reviews
The Orphan Train saga begins in 1856 in New York City where Mrs. Kelly, a young widow, realizes that she cannot give her six children the life they deserve. Mrs. Kelly makes the ultimate sacrifice of love and sends them west on the orphan train to fred better lives with new families. The children, especially thirteen-year-old Frances Mary, feel an overwhelming sense of bet ...more
Paperback, 162 pages
Published December 18th 1995 by Laurel Leaf (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

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Mary Beth
I think I read A Family Apart in third grade. I just remember that it made a big impression on me, enough so that I related the whole plot, details and all, to my grandmother in one sitting.
Becky
I remember reading these as a child and I absolutely loved them. I figure if the memory of a book has been able to stick with me for over twenty years it deserves four stars. I also remember that these were the first characters I cried for in a book, the first time I was moved to an outburst of emotion by written word. Those are the types of things that stick with a bibliophile.

Read in fifth grade.
Tracy
I think I read this book for the first time in 6th grade. I'm feeling a bit nostalgic lately so I've been rereading books from my childhood. I remembered that while I liked the Orphan Train series, It always bugged me that at some point (I don't remember which book) the children were allowed to go back and live with their mother and most of the 6 children declined. Having reread it, it still bugs, but I can see why the children chose to live apart through the characterization of Frances Mary in ...more
Candace
A Family Apart is the first book in the Orphan Train Adventures series. The books follow the paths of the six Kelly children who are sent by their mother out to St Joseph, Missouri where they can hopefully find better lives than she can provide from them back in New York City.

The first book in the series, not only tells the story of the children being sent West, but focuses on Frances Mary, the eldest of the six Kellys. In her story, Frances pretends to be a boy to be able to stay with her young
...more
Tish
I think I would have liked this more if I were 10 years old. It seemed more like an attempt to describe what life was like back then, hitting on various aspects briefly and shallowly (poor Irish family in New York City, Orphan Train, outlaws, bounty hunters chasing escaped slaves) than a real story about real-seeming people. A lot of issues and situations were brought up that would probably provide good discussion topics, but I never really felt like the author brought them to life. I would rath ...more
Andrew
Feb 26, 2013 Andrew added it
When I checked this book out I thought it would be boring. I judged it by its cover. But then I started reading it and I sort of liked it. It starts out slow but progresses and starts to get exiting. The main character is Frances Mary, she cleans at a shop to earn money for her family. One day Frances's mother decides that she needs to send the 6 children to new families in the west to give them a better life. That's we're the journey begins…


Janet
I remember LOVING this book as a kid. I still love it. And the entire series.
Melinda
I read this when i was 11-12 years old and lent it to a classmate in the 8th grade but it was never returned. Unfortunately the only thing I remembered about this book was the picture on the cover and the important lessons it taught. It was only recently when I searched the library for 'Orphan Train' that this book appeared in the results and sparked my memory. I plan to read the series again to sharpen my memory of those important life lessons and I'm sure I will love the book and series just a ...more
Eden
Frances Mary is thirteen and the oldest of the six Kelly children. She loves her Mother, but can't feeling betrayed and abandoned when her mother sends them away in hopes they have a better life.

Frances Mary realizes that she and her siblings will be separated, as it will be very unlikely for any couple to take all six children. But she made her mother a promise, a promise to stay with her youngest brother and to do this, Frances Mary must pose as a boy.

The beginning of the book was kind of slow
...more
Jodie Toohey
I found this book on Amazon when I was researching for my pre-civil war era historical novel; it book provided a lot of good information about the appearance of the rural Midwest and about how people lived in their farm communities.

A Family Apart opens in modern times when the grandmother of bored visiting kids in Missouri pulls out their great-great-great grandmother's, Frances Mary Kelly's, diary. It then jumps to showing Frances Mary Kelly's difficult life in New York City helping to support
...more
Joanne Kelleher
3.5
I wasn't sure how to rate this book. It was a very simple version of a very complicated chapter in history - children being sent West on the Orphan Train and the Underground Railroad.That being said, I cried twice while reading it, and that usually signals that it is a worthwhile read. I was interested in what happened with the characters, and although the outcomes seemed a little too pat, I was glad that things seemed to work out for them.
Lisa
Frances is growing up in NYC in 1860. After her father dies, her mother struggles to keep her family of six together and in good morals. Her brother Mike suddenly gets arrested as a pick-pocket and his doomed to prison. Frances' mother decides that she is incapable of caring for her children and so she sends them off to Missouri with a children's mission to be adopted by a western family wanting children.

In attempt to keep part of the family together, Frances decides to "change" into a boy; for
...more
Shanti
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan
3 1/2 stars really, this is very good juvenile fiction. It is a young girl and her dealing with a very challenging experience, as her mother sacrifices for her children and sends them out west where they will hopefully be better cared for than she is able. As a mom, I couldn't make that gamble, nor part with my own. But this girl deals with the hurt in her own way, while making her own sacrifices for her siblings and others. It is a beautiful story of personal development, and learning of the wi ...more
Heather
A YA book, on the young side of YA...my kids read in 4th grade. I thought it might be interesting reading to accompany "Orphan Train" not a bad read, but I almost feel like there was too much "history stuff" crammed in...like everything that was going on I the time period thrown in one book! Ie....Missouri compromise, orphan trains, Underground Railroad" and now I have to keep reading to find out what happened to the siblings! ( this is boom 1 of a series!)
Judith
This is a young adult book.

A Family Apart will help explain about ultimate sacrifice and love. The author of this novel has a unique writing style which will make you laugh and cry. Throughout the book, six children are raised in a harsh world of poverty. They are sent West on an orphan train by their mother, who feels she can't give them the life they deserve. When the children are separated, they realize how much they meant to each other. I enjoyed this novel because the compassion the mother
...more
Kaitlyn *I Will Never Let Go*
I can honestly say I haven't read this book in a long, long time. However, my entire fourth grade class was entirely obsessed with the series for, like, years on end. Whenever I see it now I want to cry because fourth grade was so amazing. Ah, those good old days when everything was innocent...Anyway, nostalgia aside, I would probably find some flaws in this book if I read it again. But for old time's sake, I would overlook them nonetheless. It left such a profound impression on me,I've never be ...more
Sheryl Solberg
Read it with my 5th grader. It was okay and I will probably read the rest of the series.
Joanna
This is yet another family read aloud. Would be perfect for late elementary.
Tarica
Greatest coming of age collection for pre-teens and teenagers hands down. All teenagers feel they have a legitament reason to complain but I think after reading this series of pain and triumph your teen will appreciate what they have (not only materialist values but family values)and feel self assured in what they can accomplish. I read the Orphan Train Quartet in middle school, high school, and again in my early 20's to keep it fresh. One of the most relevant books of my childhood. It is entert ...more
Annie (Claire McCaslin) mccaslin
so far this book is pretty good. I am not very far so i have not read alot, but right now i am right after the main character is kind-of giving a back-story on what it was like when her father (da) died. the main character is a girl who is the eldest of the many children in her family. she has a job with her mom and I think that I like her. i think that ( or i am afraid that) the mom will die and then the orphan part will make sense. I would recomend this book to anyone who likes kind-of old bo ...more
Katie
I remembered this series from when I was a kid and wanted to read it again.
Rebecca
I remember loving this series when I was little!
Micaela
I loved this book! truly eye-opening and realistic, submerging you in the reality of life for the Orphan Train children. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series someday!
Elizabeth Gondek
Good! Sad, but good!
Abby
Oh, the memories! Had to read this one in early middle school as a trade book. Of course the plot line is simplified (everything has to wrap up before the end!) but I think it is still a neat way to introduce the whole concept of the Orphan Train to kids, not to mention the related feelings/issues of adoption. Always good to practice putting yourself in someone else's shoes, and a book like this really will make kids think, "How would I feel if I was living this?"
Cil.herradagmail.com
Definitely a text to be used as an anchor text in historical fiction unit. The text is told from the perspective of a young girl that is the daughter of immigrants. The family is sent on West on the orphan train. Historical fiction but does contain elements of history that can be verifiable. Focus on migration within the United States. Informational text must be included during this unit about orphans that actually rode the trains.
Rosalie "Fred"
I cried so much! Loved it!
Jenna
Pretty decent series. They were a very light read (I read the four in a day, no problem) and I would have liked them better a few years ago. My only real problem with them was that the ages were all wrong. Except for Mike, all of the children acted much younger than they supposedly were. Just take two years off all their ages and it would be more realistic to me. Mike acted like an 11 yr old though.
Virginia
I loved this book and the whole series that it begins. It's an adventure and a compelling historical situation. I loved the courage of the children, especially Mary, as she dresses up like a boy in order to stay with her youngest brother which adds to the excitement and tension of the story. My favorite part was when she gets into a fist fight and actually wins.
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Author of more than one hundred books, Joan Lowery Nixon is the only writer to have won four Edgar Allan Poe Awards for Juvenile Mysteries (and been nominated several other times) from the Mystery Writers of America. Creating contemporary teenage characters who have both a personal problem and a mystery to solve, Nixon captured the attention of legions of teenage readers since the publication of h ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Orphan Train Adventures (7 books)
  • Caught in the Act (Orphan Train Adventures, #2)
  • In The Face of Danger (Orphan Train Adventures, #3)
  • A Dangerous Promise (Orphan Train Adventures, #4)
  • Keeping Secrets (Orphan Train Adventures, #5)
  • A Place to Belong (Orphan Train Adventures, #6)
  • Circle of Love (Orphan Train Adventures, #7)
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