Monday, 25 May 2015

"Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline

   The idea of the orphan trains really caught my interest.  I was slightly familiar with this part of history, having read about orphan trains in Europe, United States and Canada. It seemed to be a solution to finding homes for children who were living on the street.  In the early 1900's it is estimated that there were over 10,000 children living on the streets of New York City at any given time.  The idea was to send them west to find homes.
    From 1854 to 1919, the orphan trains ran regularly from the east coast to the midwest of the U.S.  Charles Loring Brace is the man who funded this operation and he is known as the father of the Children's Aid.
    It is believed that more than 200,000 children were transported in this manner.  Hopefully, some of them found good homes, but mostly people were looking for 'free labour' and I am fascinated by the fact that every one of those children had a story that was unique.  That aspect interested me in this book.
   Vivian Daly is a 91- year-old widow when we meet her, living on the coast of Maine.  Molly Ayer, 17, comes to her house to work off her community service hours.  Supposedly, she is helping Vivian to clean out the boxes in her attic.  But in reality, not much cleaning is accomplished,  but these two people bond as they realize the similarity of their stories.  Molly is a Penobscot Indian who has had many bad experiences in the foster care system.  Vivian was on an orphan train in 1929.
  I was fascinated with the concept of this book, but the structure could have been better.  The two personal stories could have melded more easily.  I will not be looking for more books by this author, but I have already picked up more novels with orphan train stories.

   Everyone has a story and these orphans experienced more than I can imagine. I love to read their stories!
I chose this book because of the cover and the title.

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