Orphan Train

orphan train cover image Orphan Train

Christina Baker Kline
General Fiction
William Morrow Paperbacks
Paperback, 304 pages

This masterfully written, recently released work of fiction, is a hard one to put down. Kline takes us on a journey through the lives of two orphans tossed together in a twist of serendipity. Molly is a teenaged orphan with a Goth exterior and an attitude to match who is sentenced to do 50 community service hours helping 91 year old Vivian clean out the boxes in her attic. It turns out Vivian was an orphan as well and, as these two women open the old boxes in the attic, the story unfolds from Ireland, New York City, Minnesota and then Maine. What can these two learn from each other? 
At the turn of the 19th century thousands of east coast orphans were put on trains and sent to the Midwest. There the children were lined up for potential adoptive couples to take their pick. Kline has delved deeply into how this process worked and her level of detail paints pictures with words that leave you feeling like you are one of those orphans. Of course the train is a metaphor about each of our lives and our own ride and the thin line that often separates one possible outcome from another.