Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

big picMolly is a teenager who has been through many different foster homes. Her father died in a car accident and her mom is in jail.  She steals a book from the library and has to do community service. The community service is to help an elderly woman clean out her attic.  This is where she meets Vivian, who was also an orphan and endured many different foster homes in her youth.

Vivian lost her whole family in a fire soon after they moved from Ireland, to New York. Having no relatives in the United States she is put on an orphan train and sent away. She spent her youth always feeling alien and strange and grief stricken at losing so much and having no one to tell.

This book tells the story of both women’s struggles as orphans. Both women were abandoned, always seeking the warmth of love and belonging. Full of despair and at the mercy of strangers. Grateful for the slightest act of kindness, but suspicious of everyone’s motives. Never lost fear they would be given away again and have start over.

Vivian gave Molly’s community service sentence meaning. Vivian and Molly became close and shared their stories with one another. A very sad and moving book.  These two women really helped each other and gave one another a little peace and comfort.  My library book club loved it!

Vivian: “It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in. I feel a decade older than my years. I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary. So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel.  I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside.”

 

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