All Aboard!

Well after the last two clunkers, it was great to read a book this week that I absolutely devoured. I read this one in about 3 sittings including one interrupted lunch break at work. It’s less than 300 pages so it’s a really quick read, but very interesting subject matter so it goes even faster. And now I can say that I have successfully read my 10th book! (well at least since I started this blog)

orphan Book #10– Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline

Rating: 4- Would recommend to a friend!

Synopsis: To avoid going to juvie and getting kicked out of her foster-care home, Molly owes 50 hours of community service (for stealing a book from the library). With a little string-pulling by her boyfriend Jack, she serves her time by cleaning out the attic of a large home where his mother works as a housekeeper. The home owner, Vivian, is a nonagenarian who doesn’t seem to want to throw out any of the items in the attic, but she does have some fascinating stories to tell about them. Vivian was a first-generation Irish immigrant who was orphaned by a fire shortly after coming to New York. She was sent to the Children’s Aide Society who quickly put her on a train to the mid-west to be taken in and hopefully adopted.  Molly also lost one parent to an accident and one to drugs and jail. They form a bond over their similar histories while Vivian gives Molly hope for her future and  Molly gives Vivian and gift to connect to her past.

My Impressions: I really enjoyed this book. I always love cross generational story-telling and this was very well done. I think you could categorize this book as both young adult and historical fiction. But I’m in the camp that YA books are just as interesting to adults. The subject mater of the book was new to me. I’d never heard of this element of American history before. The movies “Newsies” and “Annie” touch a little of the number of orphaned children in New York at the turn of the century, but never really shed light on the attempts to find homes for these children. The first-hand perspective in relationship to the modern foster care system was an interesting parallel. For the curious minds, there is additional material in the book that offers more information on the Children’s Aide Society and the orphaned train riders.

While I appreciate an author who gets to the point without pontificating, I actually think this book could have been a little longer. I would have enjoyed a little more character development and insight into Molly’s past homes and reasons for leaving them. I think some of the secondary characters could have been built up a bit more as well to help understand their behaviors. I think the modern side of the story needed a little more telling.

Why you should read it: This was a quick and easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed; simply because it was different from most of the subject matter of American historical fiction. There were enough twists and surprises to make a slightly predictable ending still very interesting when you arrived. This would be a great January book club pick as people wind down from the holidays and get back into a normal routine or a resolution.

Book #10 in the bag!

“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” ― Abraham Lincoln


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