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Orphan Train
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Archive: Other Books > Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline - 4.5 stars

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JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments 4.5 stars

I am doing a scavenger hunt reading challenge which had a task to go to an independent bookstore and get a staff recommendation. There is a small bookstore in the mountain town where we have a vacation house. I've been several times, because having a bookstore was one of the requirements for where I wanted to retire ;-) Anyway, it's pretty small and I've read a fair amount so finding a book that I hadn't read took a while. This was the pick and I really enjoyed it.

There is a dual storyline about a girl named Molly who is in the foster care system. She has been shuffled from home to home but at 17, she has almost aged out of the system. Her foster mom, Dina, seems to be in it only for the money, but at least she has found a boyfriend. She isn't a bad kid, but does end up in trouble. Her boyfriends arranges for her to do community service by helping an older woman, Vivian, clean out her attic. Over time, Molly learns the story of Vivian who was one of the participants in "orphan train" program, where orphans from the east coast (mostly NY) we shipped by train to the midwest for adoption. In theory, sounds like good idea, but actually many landed in bad situations where the children became indentured servants.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There were a lot of parallels between the main characters lives despite the times they were living in. I also liked the watching the relationship between Molly and Vivian grow. The story highlighted an aspect of history that I had no idea about so it's always nice to learn something new. Both story-lines were equally compelling so it was a fast read for me. I am deducting 1/2 a star because I didn't feel that Molly's story was wrapped up. I didn't need a happy ending, but the ending was a bit abrupt. Perhaps I just didn't want the story to end because I was enjoying it so perhaps the deduction is a bit unfair. Recommend for fans of dual story-lines and historical fiction about specific events.


message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I have had this sitting on my Kobo for the longest time but somehow I always find something that draws me in more. Your review has reminded me to read it!


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5537 comments My book club had a great discussion on this one.


message 4: by Joi (last edited Mar 05, 2016 07:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joi (missjoious) | 3775 comments I loved this one. It's rare when a book has two ongoing storylines that I can't pick a favorite (or a least favorite). But I was always excited to switch and never had that "I wish they'd follow one story more than the other" moment.

Also watch-out I definitely cried at the end!


message 5: by Anita (last edited Mar 05, 2016 07:30AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anita Pomerantz | 6248 comments My book club also really liked this one, but I wasn't a huge fan. It was okay.

I just wrote a big diatribe on one of Book Concierge's reviews about how I'm tired of a present narrator telling the story of a past person. It seems to be used over and over again, and as Joi points out, I usually am not a fan of one of the storylines. For this book, I liked the past story of the Orphan Train, but the present story didn't excite me.

However, I know I'm alone on this book . . .most people LOVED it.


Jennifer P. Pope (jenjunum) | 902 comments I agree Anita. I didn't like the present day story in this one much at all. I only liked the parts she spent at the house with Viviane. But I really enjoyed the Orphan Train part. I could have done without all of Molly's back story.


message 7: by Denizen (last edited Mar 05, 2016 11:33AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Anita wrote: "My book club also really liked this one, but I wasn't a huge fan. It was okay."

It was a 3 star book for me, too. Quick read though. I liked how Kline juxtaposed the two stories - thought it illustrated how society still doesn't have a good solution for orphaned or displaced children.


message 8: by Ladyslott (last edited Mar 05, 2016 10:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ladyslott | 1880 comments This was a 3 star book for me, the dialogue felt all wrong to me.

My review


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Linda S wrote: "This was a 3 star book for me, the dialogue felt all wrong to me.

My review"


Great review. I agree with every word.


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Anita wrote: "My book club also really liked this one, but I wasn't a huge fan. It was okay.

I just wrote a big diatribe on one of Book Concierge's reviews about how I'm tired of a present narrator telling the ..."


I've seen reviews all over the place on this one. I've kept it on my TBR but if you aren't impressed I lean towards to removing it.


Anita Pomerantz | 6248 comments Regina wrote: "Anita wrote: "My book club also really liked this one, but I wasn't a huge fan. It was okay.

I just wrote a big diatribe on one of Book Concierge's reviews about how I'm tired of a present narrato..."


Honestly, I'd be a little surprised if this one was more than three stars from you, but sometimes you just have to read the "it" book to see what all the commotion is about, lol.


Hahtoolah | 406 comments The Orphan Train was a selection of my book group a year or so ago. I was unaware of the historical background of orphan trains, so found that portion of the story very interesting. I wasn't so keen on the parallel story taking part in present day and thought the ending was a bit contrived. Overall, though, I liked the book.


Anita Pomerantz | 6248 comments Hahtoolah wrote: "The Orphan Train was a selection of my book group a year or so ago. I was unaware of the historical background of orphan trains, so found that portion of the story very interesting. I wasn't so kee..."

I did think the whole orphan train concept was a very interesting one upon which to hang the story . . .that was my favorite thing about the book.


annapi | 4856 comments I gave it 4 stars, I enjoyed it very much despite its flaws. I tend to be more forgiving of flaws in YA stories.


JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments I have noticed for me that I seem to give books a higher score if they are also a quick read ---- I may not notice the writing as much. I think that this orphan train concept was intriguing enough that I read this book pretty quickly.


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Anita wrote: "Regina wrote: "Anita wrote: "My book club also really liked this one, but I wasn't a huge fan. It was okay.

I just wrote a big diatribe on one of Book Concierge's reviews about how I'm tired of a ..."


I have too many books on my TBR that I'm anxious to read. LOL. I think I will just pass on it.


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