Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
A Novel

84%

43 Critic Reviews

Kline lets us live the characters’ experiences vividly through their skin...The growth from instinct to conscious understanding to partnership between the two is the foundation for a moving tale.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

The #1 New York Times Bestseller

Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights a little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past—and it includes a special PS section for book clubs featuring insights, interviews, and more.

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns 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.

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 unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

 

About Christina Baker Kline

See more books from this Author
Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. She is the author of five novels, including Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be. Writer in Residence at Fordham University from 2007 to 2011, Kline is also a recent recipient of a Ger- aldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship and several research fellowships to Ire- land and Minnesota. She lives outside of New York City and spends as much time as possible in northern Minnesota and on the coast of Maine.
 
Published April 2, 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks. 278 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Education & Reference. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 13 2013
icon55
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Orphan Train
All: 43 | Positive: 41 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Good
on Jan 17 2013

Kline does a superb job in connecting goth-girl Molly, emotionally damaged by the "toll [of] years of judgment and criticism," to Vivian, who sees her troubled childhood reflected in angry Molly.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Feb 11 2013

Kline lets us live the characters’ experiences vividly through their skin...The growth from instinct to conscious understanding to partnership between the two is the foundation for a moving tale.

Read Full Review of Orphan Train: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Suzee Townsend on Jun 15 2013

Christina Baker Kline has taken a period in history called the “Orphan Train” and woven a tapestry of two generations into a moving story of resilience, loneliness and with the backbone to survive and thrive.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on Apr 05 2013

Not until I read Christina Baker Kline's book, however, did I realize just how romanticized this version was. ORPHAN TRAIN is a harrowing but ultimately uplifting story about this historical phenomenon.

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RT Book Reviews

Good

This superbly composed novel tells two parallel stories of suffering and perseverance, capturing the heart and mind equally and remaining mesmerizing through the intensely heart-wrenching conclusion.

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Historical Novel Society

Good
on Jul 28 2013

Kline jumps back and forth from the 1920s to 2011 easily and convincingly. I marveled at how minimal the protections for children were in the 1920s and 1930s...This is primarily a young adult novel, although it’s not listed as such.

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Keizertimes

Excellent
Reviewed by Terri Schlichenmeyer on Apr 15 2013

Crack this book open just one page, in fact, and I don’t think you’ll be able to let it go. “Orphan Train” is one of those books that sticks to your heart like glue.

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Upcoming4.Me

Good
on Jan 09 2014

Beautifully written, Orphan Train is a heartfelt and moving tale about finding friendship and solace in the unlikeliest of places. A gem of a book.

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Sheri Newton on Apr 28 2013

If you enjoy reading historical fiction that is based on actual facts, this is a book that I think you will truly enjoy. It is an excellent read that should be shared with others...

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Luxury Reading

Good
Reviewed by Vera on May 24 2013

Heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, Orphan Train is the story of a lonesome way of life, not just for Molly and Vivian, but for thousands of other children who have endured (and continue to endure) similar hardships.

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Curled Up

Above average
on Jan 16 2014

Kline beautifully recreates the atmosphere of 1920s America, immigrants streaming into New York in hope of better lives, a promise of opportunity unheard of elsewhere.

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Booking Mama

Excellent
on Nov 20 2012

Truly, I thought ORPHAN TRAIN was an excellent book with very memorable characters; and it certainly showed that friendship can be found in the most unlikely places. Highly recommended!

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That's What She Read

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on May 02 2013

Because of the grace with which it educates and yet forces a reader to debate some its more surprising elements, Orphan Train is a worthy addition to the wealth of fabulous spring releases this year.

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Quick Book Reviews

Good
on Aug 12 2013

In the end, the book makes for a very touching and curious tale of trans-generational spiritual bonding, driven by a “half-mystery”, hinged on the many fates which befell the children from the orphan train ages upon ages ago.

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Nomad Reader

Good
on Aug 19 2013

Kline makes the orphan train experience come alive through Vivian, and her joint portrayal of Molly's life in foster care is a sobering reality of how close we still are to that dark history.

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Book Chatter

Below average
Reviewed by Ti on Apr 23 2013

...when these two unlikely characters meet, Kline does a good job of weaving between the two stories and figures out how to make them come together in a satisfying way. My only quibble, is that the ending was a tad rushed and perhaps, too convenient.

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Peeking Between the Pages

Good
on May 06 2013

Orphan Train will grip you from the time you begin the journey on the orphan train with Vivian through the troubled and happy times that follow in her life.

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The Introverted Reader

Below average
Reviewed by Introverted Jen on Sep 03 2013

The book was not without its flaws...There's at least one huge coincidence that left me rolling my eyes. Events occurred that I just knew were setting up a future conflict that never happened. The ending was a little too tidy and it was definitely abrupt.

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You've GOTTA Read This

Good
Reviewed by Sandy on May 02 2013

...I tend to stay away from long books, but this is one of those times when I think it could have used another hundred pages. The history and the material is rich, and I was left wanting more.

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Impressions In Ink

Good
Reviewed by Annette on Apr 17 2013

What I most loved about Orphan Train was Vivian's story. The book could have been poorly written, and the background clumsy, but Vivian's story carried the book.

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Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Good
Reviewed by Literary Feline on Aug 08 2013

Christina Baker Kline did a wonderful job of bringing her characters to life for me, as well as making me feel and care for them. I liked the way the author connected all the pieces of the story together.

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Good Book Fairy

Above average
Reviewed by goodbookfairy on Aug 02 2013

Molly was more of a vessel to get to Vivian’s story rather than an equal protagonist as the book jacket suggests. Good writing and interesting historical fiction makes this a short, easy and interesting read.

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Bookfoolery and Babble

Good
Reviewed by Bookfool on Apr 15 2013

Likable characters, a fascinating storyline with nicely-drawn parallels, a fascinating peek into a part of American History I knew nothing about and a satisfying ending made Orphan Train a book I set down with a (mildly soggy) smile on my face.

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Estella's Revenge

Good
on Jul 07 2013

I really thought this was gonna stink it up. I just didn't think it was for me. Especially since it's the eleventy-fifth book we've read that features dual narrators. Whenever I think I'm not gonna like an unfamiliar-to-me book, I love it!

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Maurice on Books

Excellent
on Jul 29 2013

This is one of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read! THE ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline, is, quite simply, magnificent.

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Tina's Book Reviews

Excellent
on Jul 15 2013

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporary or historical pieces, or to any reader who wants to feel their hearts break, heal and soar again. I will treasure this book on my shelf along with my other favorites.

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TLC Book Tours

Good
on Jun 14 2013

Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.

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Everyday I Write the Book

Good
on Nov 16 2012

Kline creates in Niamh a strong heroine – one who doesn’t pity herself despite her awful childhood, yet who is still accessible to the reader and totally sympathetic.

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West Metro Mommy

Excellent
on Aug 02 2013

Every once in a while a book comes along that just invades your soul. For me, Orphan Train was one of those books and it is one that I will be recommending to just about everyone I know.

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Amused by Books

Excellent
on May 06 2013

I would highly, highly recommend this novel to any historical fiction buff or someone just looking for a well written, immensly readable novel.

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Literary Hoarders

Good
Reviewed by Penny on Oct 17 2012

Another solid 4-star read for me! I miss Vivian terribly and wish I could be the one sitting in her attic listening to her fascinating story.

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A Bookish Way of Life

Good
Reviewed by Nadia A on Aug 13 2013

I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, women's fiction, and fiction in general - this is one book you won't want to miss!

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Bookmagnet

Good
on May 07 2013

Solemnity and heartbreak intersperse the pages of this novel, yet Kline also infuses Orphan Train with inspiration and hope.

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The Bibliobrat

Excellent
Reviewed by J.C. on Jan 16 2014

I know there is a lot of talk going on about this book, and it is well-deserved. I’m so glad I was able to get a review copy, but I assure you, I would have gladly paid for a copy. In fact, it not only goes on my “recommendation” list but on my “books to give as a gift” list.

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Sincerely Stacie

Excellent
Reviewed by Stacie on Nov 13 2013

It is a part of our history that shouldn't be forgotten. I highly recommend you place ORPHAN TRAIN at the top of your reading list.

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bookchickdi

Good
Reviewed by Diane on Jul 25 2013

If you read The Chaperone, Orphan Train is a must-read for you. Anyone who like stories about strong women and historical fiction, will enjoy Orphan Train.

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Patti Smith

Good
on Apr 10 2013

If you like historical fiction that is a heart tugging narrative as well as a look back in time, you'll want to curl up with Orphan Train...

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Teresa's Reading Corner

Above average
Reviewed by Teresa on Sep 06 2013

...it wasn’t as bleak as I’d anticipated it to be. As a matter of fact, I found it to be an interesting marriage of the past and the present. It struck me as a perfect example of the old adage that people come into your lives just as you need them most.

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Book Addict Katie

Good
Reviewed by Katie on May 20 2013

Not only are the characters compelling, but the history of these orphan trains is fascinating...I cannot recommend this book enough...

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BookaliciousBabe

Good
on Apr 07 2013

I think high school students should read this, as well as anyone in the foster care system. Book clubs would also find this a great discussion novel.

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Life As I Know It

Excellent
on Jul 02 2013

I agreed to read and review this book for TLC Book Tours, and wow, what a book...This book really packs a punch, and by the end, I was crying big, sloppy tears. Wonderful story.

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The House of Seven Tails

Good
Reviewed by Amy Meyer on Apr 16 2013

This book is well worth reading for the period of American history it details. Kline has written an absorbing account of one little girl's remarkable life.

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http://apl.org

Good
on Nov 19 2013

Every once in a while a book comes along that you say to yourself when finished reading, what a story...You will admire Vivian's tenacity at such a young age and appreciate the human spirit.

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