Book review, Fiction, Uncategorized

Book Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Today I’m reviewing Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. My mom told me a few weeks ago that she had read it and she knew I would like it. I checked the ebook out from a local library and read it in three days. Once I started I couldn’t put it down!

Orphan Train is a fictional story based on a true historical event. Between 1854-1929, orphaned children from large cities in the east were placed on trains and sent to the midwest. The idea was that they would find homes and be adopted but many of them found themselves to be indentured servants to their new “parents.” Over 200,000 children traveled on these orphan trains.

Orphan Train tells the life story of Niamh (pronounced “Neev”) who immigrates from Ireland to New York as a child in the early 1920s. Her family has not been in their new country for long when she is orphaned and then placed on one of these orphan trains bound for the midwest. She does not have an easy childhood and there are parts of the book that were difficult for me to read.

Interwoven with Niamh’s story is the modern day story of Molly who is currently living with foster parents. As part of a punishment for stealing from the library, she has to perform community service hours. She ends up working for Niamh (who is now called Vivian) and in the process learns her life story.

This was an easy, quick read.  The writing is simple and it reminded me of a YA book.  Due to some of the content I personally wouldn’t let my 13 year old read it (there is a short but graphic scene of child sexual abuse).  I was sad to see such a poor portrayal of foster parents (both Niamh and Molly’s) throughout the book.  All of them, with the exception of Niamh’s eventual adoptive parents, were horrible, selfish people.

Overall I really enjoyed this book.  I felt that it ended abruptly though and I wanted to know more about Molly.  I would recommend it if you’re looking for a quick and interesting read and you like historical fiction.





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