Orphan Train by Christina Baker-Kline

Orphan Train by Christina Baker-Kline

There are some books that you wish would go on forever… No matter where the author chooses to end the story it is too soon for you  You are just so enthralled with the characters – their past and their future – that you can’t help but want more.  Christina Baker-Kline’s novel, Orphan Train is one of these books….

Molly Ayer, a seventeen year old girl in foster care, reluctantly agrees to help Vivian Daly, a wealthy ninety-one year old woman living in a mansion in Maine clean out her attic, as a way to avoid going to juvie.  Molly can’t imagine spending so many hours with an elderly lady, one who she is sure would have no concept of Molly’s life.


Molly couldn’t have been more wrong….


As a young child, Vivian’s parents left their home in Ireland seeking a better life in America.  Instead of finding happiness in New York, the family was destroyed by a devastating fire.  All alone, Vivian was first sent to an orphanage and then placed on an OrphanTrain headed to the Midwest.  Like many other train riders, Vivian’s life in Minnesota was far from easy.  She lost her name (twice), her childhood, and struggled to survive.  But she never lost her spirit….


Spanning eighty years, Christina expertly alternates sharing Molly’s and Vivian’s life – stories of adversity, neglect, love, and resilience. Despite how different these woman’s circumstances are their experiences are so similar… and their unlikely friendship is just what they both need….



On an aside – I am very lucky.  I have had the pleasure to get to know Christina, she edited my memoir.  Christina is not only a talented writer, but she is an excellent teacher (I hear her voice in my head whenever I write – including work emails), a darling person, and a true inspiration…. 


17 thoughts on “Orphan Train by Christina Baker-Kline

  1. Thanks for the review. These are not the type of books I usually read but this sounds very interesting to me. I will definitely look in to getting it!

    1. Tonya – I didn’t like books with history either but I have changed… I find I get more vested in the characters…

  2. I love reading books like this, where so much history gets explored and a look at two lives, years apart, yet so the same. I’ll have to check this one out. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Tami – you are going to love it… the characters will stay with you for quite a while after the last page is turned…

  3. Here from ICLW and from this description, I am so drawn to this book. I would LOVE to read it. I know exactly how it is–your heart just aches to close the back cover and leave the characters inside. I would love to have a chance to get to know these ones!

    1. Shelby – Happy ICLW – You should read this book. It was amazing… I hated to say goodbye to the characters, but I know if I miss them too much I can always open the book again and visit!

  4. Hi Hilaryg! I thought I’d just drop a quick comment here so you know I’ve been reading around the net and found your site – I believe via a comment you made on enjoyingthislife.com. Anyhow, I like this place!

  5. I read this for our book club, and can’t wait for the discussion! I loved how the two time periods were woven together. I had heard of the train before, but didn’t realize it went on for 75 years and over 200,000 children rode it. Quite a history lesson!

    1. House Cleaning – I know… It was an amazing history lesson but told in such a fun, unique way.. It is the kind of book that haunts you!

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