“Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender.” –Bunny McBride Women of the Dawn
The phrase is part of a quote that appears before the title page in the book and I really loved it for I felt it was true.
I’ve been eyeing Orphan Train by Christina Kline Baker for a long time simply because the concept of an orphan train was so foreign to me. To realize that the orphan train had existed was a shock to me.
Firstly, understand that this book is not about the orphan train, it is a story about it’s rider.
Secondly, the book is filled with mainstream characters and the events that unfold are easily predictable.
Thirdly, the book is written in two different point of views. One in Vivian’s (the foremost protagonist) first person perspective and the other in Molly’s (the other protagonist) third person perspective. Vivian’s story flowed smoothly, it felt like an memoir. Molly’s role in this however, felt a little forced.
[SPOILER COMING UP]
I did not understand Vivian’s decision for giving up her child, I just don’t. With her experience of being pushed from family to family, never feeling like she belonged, I couldn’t fathom why she would do that to her own child. Honestly, this threw me off.
[END OF SPOILER]
Backcover Insert: Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescent of hard labor and servitude?
As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about her past (this was not highly highlighted in the book).
Moving between comtemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances and unexpected friendship.
Christina Kline Baker
Published 2nd April 2013