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Orphan Train: A Novel | [Christina Baker Kline]

Orphan Train: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.

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.

©2013 Christina Baker Kline (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“The narrator of Orphan Train, Jessica Almasy, does an incredible read. Listening to Almasy’s rendition of this book - so vivid and emotional - was as much fun as getting swept away by an Oscar-winning movie.” (Parents.com)

"Absorbing...a heartfelt page-turner about two women finding a sense of home.... 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)

“Kline's vibrant, sophisticated language comes alive with the sparkling talents of narrators Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren. Their finely paced, enthusiastic portrayals of the charming main characters quickly capture the listener.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (8302 )
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4.4 (7305 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rappers Mom 04-11-13
    Rappers Mom 04-11-13

    Sharon

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    "So much impact at so many levels!"

    As a work of historical fiction, a piece of genealogical interest, a story of redemption, an interesting narrative of the value of intergenerational communications, this is a great piece on many levels. It is also extremely well written. The narrators were amazing and added so much to the enjoyment. My only regret is that there was so much profanity in the modern-day section. I suppose it was a purposeful effort to draw a distinction between the generations, but for me it was jarring and unnecessary, particularly with the level of writing in this book. I only wish I could find an edited version to share!

    23 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 02-22-14
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 02-22-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Tell your tween"

    While this was an OK book, it really belongs in the young adult / young teen section. It reminded me of books I read when I was about thirteen. It did prompt me to read more about Orphan Trains, which I did find interesting, so I did get something out of it>

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donnise columbia, tn, United States 06-20-13
    Donnise columbia, tn, United States 06-20-13

    I have a 3 hour commute to work every day so I listen to audiobooks to help with my drive. It's added some happiness to my day (if it's a good book)!

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    "A Wonderful Story"
    Would you listen to Orphan Train again? Why?

    I have never had a desire to hear a book a second time.


    What other book might you compare Orphan Train to and why?

    The Chaperone was similar.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren ?

    I could not stand when she narrated the voice of Molly.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kara STRONGSVILLE, OH, United States 05-06-13
    Kara STRONGSVILLE, OH, United States 05-06-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A must listen. Sad tears & happy tears in 1 story!"

    Listened to this moving story in one listen. I was reluctant to use my credit for this, as I prefer the mystery/thriller genre. Boy, I'm glad I went ahead with it! I won't spoil it, but there are two women, so different in appearance yet with such similar experiences. Don't disregard this amazing journey full of life, experience, and love. The narrators nailed it!!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-15-13
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-15-13 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "The Chaperone meets The Language of Flowers"

    Having recently listened to The Chaperone, the topic of the Orphan train intrigued me and I was eager to read more about it. This book contrasts the experience of a modern day "orphan" navigating the foster care system with the experience of a woman who experienced the Orphan Train as a child and how it affected her life. I enjoyed the way the book bounced between each time period drawing parallels between the common problems experienced by the orphaned children. The sadness of being unloved, the personality traits that are developed when you learn to mistrust, the attitudes of society. It also reminded me of The Language of Flowers. If you enjoyed either of these books I think that this would be a great choice. The only downside was the narrator, her narration was great except when she read with an Irish accent which was terrible. However, it didnt detract enough from the story to make it a difficult listening experience

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele 04-10-13
    Michele 04-10-13
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    "Phenomenal Book!"
    What made the experience of listening to Orphan Train the most enjoyable?

    The interplay between Molly's story and Vivienne's was extraordinary! The unfolding of Vivienne's history was perfect - how could a young child survive such overwhelming circumstances - and yet she did and lived to tell about them. The narrators were wonderful. I loved this book and will recommend to everyone! Beautifully written and compelling. My heart goes out to all the children who rode that orphan train!


    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Buneary Thomas 05-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Two stories in one"

    I enjoyed the narraters voices, especially dialogs between characters and making different voices.

    I love how this book is two stories in one. They both tie into each other also. You can say it's a book about Niamh. It's a touching story and you are intrigued with what will happen next to Niamh/Dorothy/Vivian. You are secretly hoping she runs away and lives happily ever after.

    I cried when Molly did computer searches and her info was a few months to late. I smiled with the ending. I wish the romance with her first husband was longer, maybe another chapter where you could bask in their happiness. I would love a prequel or parallel of mazy's story, or a sequel of May's story. There's potential for Molly's continued story also if a sequel happened.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail 04-04-14
    Gail 04-04-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Reader too chirpy."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The story was fairly interesting, but the reader has an very irritating voice. I kept thinking that I would have enjoyed it more if there was a different reader.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Christina Baker Kline again?

    No. I would not have purchased this after listening to the small bit, but my book club selected it.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren ’s performances?

    No I don't know which one has the chirpy voice.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Irritation


    Any additional comments?

    At least I can discuss it when my book group meets.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Lyter Kempton, PA 03-22-14
    L. Lyter Kempton, PA 03-22-14 Member Since 2012

    Runner, Commuter, Dietitian with a passion for U.S. History.

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    "Runaway Train"

    Starts out promisingly enough with depiction of an emigrant Irish family's disaster followed by eldest daughter Niamh's trip to Minnesota on what must have been one of the final orphan trains, in 1929. The depiction of the children, the train and the "adoption stops” seem authentic and kept my interest. The book uses the popular device of swinging back and forth between two characters - modern day foster child Molly and present day Vivian, now 91, nee Niamh. Molly's story line is far weaker. Molly is assigned community service for stealing a library book - an old, tattered paperback copy of Jane Eyre, not pinching "World of Warcraft" from Walmart, so as not to frighten sensitive readers. Molly's community service is to help Vivian sort old boxes in a large, roomy attic in a house on a Maine island that surely seems familiar to any reader of modern American fiction. The portrayal of Molly's foster mom is a complete caricature that annoyingly makes the author's bias crystal clear. For example, while I personally support Vegetarianism, I found myself rooting for the evil Foster mom to sling a T-bone steak in Molly's lunch bag. I strongly recommend ditching this book before Vivian grows to adulthood to avoid some of the most improbable plot twists in modern fiction. Certainly you want to bail before the final chapters. If the book went any further, elderly Vivian and young Molly would be posting selfies on Instagram. While the author appears engaged in the actual orphan train segments early in the book, she seemed to lose interest as the plot progressed, stringing together one wild coincidence after another until grinding to a neatly resolved, predictable halt. Narrations, I think, were supposed to be Irish accents but they were often too muddled to fully assess. Many a native Minnesotan is caught with a bit of the brogue, except for poor Mr. Sorensen's incomprehensible dialect from somewhere in the land of Evil Adults. The book piqued my interest in the topic, however, and if I ever make it to Kansas, the Orphan Train museum in Concordia is on my bucket list.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 05-11-13
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 05-11-13

    I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.

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    "Excellent and heart wrenching story about orphans"

    Some awful decisions were made about orphans in the early parts of the 1900's East Coast cities-where the influx of immigrants who had no work but many children lead to train loads of youngsters being brought to the midwest and literally given to people who wanted kids to work farms or sew or even act as nanny to the receiving parents own children.

    This novel really got to my heart as it details the story of two orphans-one a victim of the orphan train and the other a product of the foster care system we have today. They come together and each learns from the other.

    A wonderful listen...made me grateful for my parents.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Amelia
    United Kingdom
    3/27/14
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    "Lovely easy read"

    I chose the book as it was on the New York bestseller list. I really enjoyed the way the story developed and especially Niamh/Vivienne's story. I did not particularly enjoy the 2011 part with Molly in it. I had no real interest in her but could see it was part of the setup of the story. It was really hard to read how orphan children were treated and how their lives were so disrupted or aided depending on who took them in. It makes you realise how lucky life is not to have had such experiences in it. I thought the narrative was very good and aided delivery of the story. I would highly recommend it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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