Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Orphan Train

Orphan Train

I loved this book. From the first page I couldn't get my nose out of it and I'm afraid I stayed up waaaay too late one night to finish it.

Orphan Train is fiction based on the historical fact of actual orphan trains that operated in the US between 1854 and 1929, when street kids and orphans, many of them recent immigrants, were gathered up from New York City and other east coast urban centres, placed on a train with chaperones and delivered to the mid-west for "adoption", which often, though not always, turned out to be indentured servitude. 

In Christina Baker Kline's novel we follow the parallel stories of Niamh (pronounced Neeve) and Molly, both parent-less. Niamh, now known as Vivian, is 91 and is looking back on her early life and experience as an orphan train kid. Molly, 17 years old and a native Penobscot from Maine is on a surprisingly similar life journey. An unlikely friendship springs up between these two women, both struggling to make sense of their lives.

The book has a satisfying surprise ending, good enough to make me glad when I couldn't put it down in the middle of the night.