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.
Pages: 278 (Paperback)
Publisher: Published April 2nd 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2013)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Source: Checked out from the library
Date Completed: September 16, 2014
I did not know what to expect of the Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline when it was selected for the Professors and Partners book club. I was drawn to the story immediately and liked the switch off in narrator between Molly and Vivian. The story was a good way to learn some history; I had no idea that these trains existed. My hope was to finish the book before my son arrived, but that did not happen. Instead, I was reading the book in my hospital bed in those blurry days after he was born.
I loved the intergenerational friendship between Molly and Vivian. As Vivian's story unfolds, I was reminded of how some things are timeless: wanting to be part of a family, finding love, losing love, creating community, and the gift of being able to share your story with those for whom it will be a treasure. Some aspects of the character's back story was not explored enough for my taste like Molly's Indian heritage. The other thing I did not lke very much was the ending; I felt like it wrapped up both too neatly and very abruptly.