You know those books you’re completely enraptured by? Those stories that draw you in emotionally, you feel like the characters are real? Those that make your heart happy and even have you tearing up? This, my friends, is one such book.
Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?
As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.
Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship.
Orphan Train is simply one of those books I loved from the very beginning. From the references of Anne of Green Gables to a piece of history I didn’t know existed to the heartache and the healing, Orphan Train has it all. I was captivated by each of the stories (Vivian’s and Molly’s) and loved going back and forth between their stories.
The history of the 1920s and 1930s was vivid, interesting, sad and hopeful. The same can be said of Molly’s story too. I loved reading about Irish Immigrant history through Vivian’s eyes and pieces of Native American history through Molly’s. Plus any story that deals with adoption and foster care always gets me too.
Also the changes they brought out in one another was done so well. This story serves as a reminder how there’s so much to learn from generations before us and how beautiful healing can be. They gave each other the strength to believe in second chances.
And yes, I teared up all the tears.
Have you read this one? It’s been out a while and I hope they make it into a movie!