The Book: Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline
The Blurb: Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse. Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
The Babble: Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train is more than a story about the infamous orphan trains that used to travel from the East Coast to the Midwest in order to relocate the orphaned children of immigrants. No, by telling the both the story of orphan train rider Vivian and modern foster child Molly, Kline delves into the quagmire that is the orphan/foster establishment itself. Not too deeply mind you, just enough to share stereotypes and horror stories, but still, an entry to discussion. Recommended for book club and discussion group readers.