Friday, January 13, 2017

Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train
Title: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Publication Date: 4/2/13
Pages: 278
Genre: Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins generously sent me a copy.
Date Completed: 12/28/16

Summary: Molly is a seventeen-year-old under the charge of Maine's foster care system. In a bid to complete community service hours and avoid juvenile detention time, she volunteers to clean out the attic of a wealthy older woman. Along the way, she learns about the experience of Niamh ("Neev") Power, an Irish immigrant who finds herself orphaned and sent across the country in hopes of being placed with a new family.

What I Thought: I enjoyed this book. I burned through it in a couple of days over the Christmas holidays. While I don't always love historical fiction pieces, I found this one interesting and engaging. The modern storyline added in really kept me interested. I think if it had just been the story of Niamh/Vivian, I would have struggled more to stay engaged. However, the addition of Molly into the story and the foreknowledge of who Niamh became really helped me stay interested in the historical chapters.

Christina Baker Kline
Before reading this book, I did know that the orphan trains had been a part of our history, but I did not know much about them. Jumping into the situation with Niamh and seeing her journey really gives a new perspective to the history. The idea of sending children off to the far reaches of the country and giving them to any willing family is baffling nowadays. While our current foster care system has its flaws, an analogy Kline presents masterfully with Molly, it's significantly better than what these children went through. We have come a long way and, arguably, still have a long way to go when it comes for caring for orphans in our country. 

If you enjoy historical fiction, I think you will really enjoy this book. It covers an aspect of our history many people do not know much about and it does it well. Kline presents a wide cast of characters and there's a mélange of orphan care scenarios explored in the book. Though Niamh and Molly both face their share of hardships, the ending is ultimately a positive one.

*To read other bloggers' thoughts on Orphan Train, check out the full tour schedule.*

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Probably not

A Reduced Review: An interesting, enjoyable look back at a largely unknown part of orphan care history. 


  1. Oh I love historical fiction! When I saw the title I thought for a second that maybe I had read this book but then I remembered that the main character in My Notorious Life was shipped off on an orphan train. Crazy stuff.

  2. I remember the first time I heard about orphan trains I was appalled ... it is so foreign to me, but clearly it made sense to people at the time. Stories like this really open my mind.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!