Sunday, January 12, 2014

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Book Synopsis(via Goodreads):

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.

This insomniac's opinion:

This novel was receiving quite a lot of buzz in literary circles and I was dying to read it. The hold list on the library was quite long so when I received the email stating that it was my turn, I hustled my rump immediately to the library to pick it up and settled in for a night's worth of reading.

Vivian's story was wonderful and I have long been fascinated with orphan trains and the story of the children who where on them. The present story and the friendship between Vivian and Molly was weak for me and lacked substance. If this novel was based solely on the story of Vivian's childhood journey, I would have liked it much more.

I did enjoy the novel, and it was a solid read. There was something missing in the story, however. An electricity of character that all the great novels have was simply not present.  It will not make the cut for a favorite of mine for that reason.


 3.5 stars, rounded up for Goodreads

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