I must be one of the very few who didn’t read Christina Baker Kline’s, ORPHAN TRAIN (WilliamMorrow) when it was first published in 2013. I recently received a paperback and after reading it was astonished! This really happened? What an incredible story about part of the fabric of the United States between 1929-1943; something I’d never heard about and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Not until the 1930s, were there social programs to help parents who couldn’t afford to take care of their children, so they put them in orphanages or they ended up homeless. A Midwesterner named Charles Loring Brace believed hard work, education and firm, but compassionate child rearing, especially midwestern Christian values was the only way to save these children from a life of depravity and poverty, and he founded the “Orphan Train Program.” Between 1854-1929, children from eastern cities were put on trains to the farmlands of the country with very few belongings. At whistle stops they were paraded before potential parents for adoption. All the would-be parents had to promise was to raise these children in “good Christian homes.” Many were picked over – teeth, eyes and limbs to see if they were strong enough for field work and ended up as child slave labor and suffered through unimaginable cruelty.
ORPHAN TRAIN tells the fictional story of 91 year-old, Vivian Daly, who keeps part of her past a shameful secret and troubled 17 year-old, Molly Ayers on the verge of aging out of foster care. Vivian and Molly are put together in an unusual situation, becoming friends and finding answers to their long-buried secrets.
Alternating between modern-day Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, ORPHAN TRAIN is a compelling novel of second chances, and unexpected friendship. I just fell into the novel and Baker-Klein’s brilliant prose and gobbled up every page. It was such an enjoyable experience. Even through the difficult experiences, love and hope were the emotions that I took from reading ORPHAN TRAIN. I am grateful for learning about this part of history and know this book will have me thinking for a long time.
I suggest curling up in a comfy chair with a nice cup of tea to read this novel.
Also included in the paperback version is an unanswered question readers ask about ORPHAN TRAIN, as well as a sneak peek at Cristina Baker Kline’s new novel, A PIECE OF THE WORLD. It is a fictional story based on the famous Christina painting by Andrew Wyeth, which will be published next month.
About Christina Baker Kline
Christina Baker Kline is the author of five novels. She lives out-side of New York City and on the coast of Maine. Find out more about Kline at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours http://www.tlcbooktours.com and William Morrow, we have one copy of ORPHAN TRAIN to giveaway. Just tell us if you have read or heard about ORPHAN TRAIN and your thoughts.
We’ll announce a winner Monday.