Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Title: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Genre: Adult Literary/Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: April 2/2013
Adquired: Print ARC provided by Publisher
Goodreads: ADD

The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

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.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.


Beautiful, in a way that was rewarding to the soul. I'm reading that Orphan Train is being classified as Young Adult in some circles, but I thought it leaned more towards the flow and feel of Adult Fiction. This book was a form of instant gratification, with scenes that were painted crisply and without ambiguity, and writing that didn't spend it's time trying to be overly poetic. It's been a while since I've felt like I was reading for the pure pleasure of it, Orphan Train handed that joy back to me.

Told from a first person account by 91-year-old Vivian, a widowed woman with a darkened and unfortunate past, and in third person by Molly, a 17-year-old raised by the foster care system. The two enter an unlikely friendship, and form an eventual bond that has them discovering countless similarities, and revealing moments from their lives that they hadn't shared until now. Alternating between the 1930's to 2011, we become most acquainted with Vivian's 9-year-old self, and the long, and turbulent road she traveled as an orphan. In present time, Molly is experiencing obstacles that so mirror those in Vivian's past, and the soul healing is slow-building, and satisfying.

The story Christina Baker Kline constructs in Orphan Train is impossible to tear away from. It is vividly drawn, and leaves you feeling more like a character in the book, rather than a bystander looking on. Her descriptions of young Vivian's continued hardships pierced my heart, and, interestingly enough, felt like they were heavily influenced by Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, and Roald Dahl's Matilda. At times, I felt like Vivian read more like an young adult of 16-17, rather than the 9 year-old we were suppose to believe she was, but that didn't take away from the story.

I admired the contrast she was able to achieve between the past, and present time. It's difficult to not allow one time period to bleed into the other when perspectives are changing each chapter, but this was done very smoothly. The conclusion was much appreciated, a little predictable, though it was the predictability that I think I most needed at that moment. Orphan Train was the kind of book your heart doesn't know it needs until your sitting there, completely immersed in every word.

Recommended for Fans of: Historical Fiction, Contemporary


Christina Baker Kline, the author of five novels, grew up in Maine, England, and the American South. She is married to a Midwesterner whose family history inspired her new novel, Orphan Train (April). Set in present-day Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train highlights the real-life story of the trains that between 1854 and 1929 carried more than 200,000 abandoned children from the East Coast to the Midwest.

Kline imagines the journey of one such child, Vivian Daly, an Irish immigrant whose fate is determined by luck and chance. Orphan Train is the story of an unlikely friendship between 91-year-old Vivian Daly, whose experiences are far behind her, and Molly Ayer, a 17-year-old Penobscot Indian girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever asked.

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Thank-you to Trish from TLC Blog Tours for hosting this tour, and to the publisher sending me an ARC copy of the book to review!
CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


  1. This book has been on my TBR list for a long time - I need to make the time to read it asap!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  2. I'd highly recommend this book if you're looking for something with enough depth to keep you interested, yet enough good feelings to make it an enjoyable and inspiring read.


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