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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

4.3 (4830 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kimberly Indianapolis, IN, United States 04-14-13
    Kimberly Indianapolis, IN, United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2008

    I enjoy historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Also steampunk, sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, and fiction. I'm open to about anything

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent!"

    I hope you listen to this book. The main characters have lives that are sort of similar in experiences, but from different eras. However, the author does not hit you in the face with it, but rather lets it float into your consciousness through the narrative. I mention main characters, but one seems to stand out more. Both are females with disconnected pasts, but the narrative of the older creates growth in the younger, while that growth helps the older character find more connection. I really would have liked more background on the younger woman, but I think Ms Kline wanted to focus on historic events rather than contemporary ones. I usually tolerate interruptions in my listening experiences, but I got downright cranky during this book. It's definitely going on my over and over list!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 07-07-13
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 07-07-13 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

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    "Such a near miss."

    The set up on this book is wonderful. It's two orphans, one 18, one 91 sorting through their lives. And the history that it covers on the orphan train is fascinating. She does an excellent slice of the immigrant experience.But there are so many questions unanswered at the end that I was completely unsatisfied. I so wish the author had taken us further into Vivian's amazing middle/older age. Sadly Disappointed!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 02-22-14
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 02-22-14 Member Since 2005
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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 2009
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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
  •  
    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 2010

    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
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-15-13
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 05-15-13 Member Since 2005

    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

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    miss Manly, Australia 04-17-13
    miss Manly, Australia 04-17-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Lovely"
    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    A gentle story of an orphaned girl in the 1920s, sad but uplifting in conclusion. Would recommend.


    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 02-12-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 02-12-14 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A bit of forgotten American history"

    What triggered me to read this book was the fact it was based on an almost forgotten period of American history. The Children’s Aid Society moved East Coast orphans by trains to the other states and by the end the Orphan Trains carried orphan to all states except Arizona. It is estimated somewhere between 105,000 to 200,000 orphans were transported from 1854 to 1929. These children were either placed in homes or as workers with little or no investigation or supervision of the homes or business. Kline weaves her two fictional characters into a historical situation. Kline employs a dual narrative format as she takes us from contemporary Maine to Minnesota in the midst of the depression and war. Molly Ayer a Penobscot youth is 17 years of age and months away from being aged out of the foster care system. Over the past nine years she had been in over a dozen foster homes. Molly stole a book “Jane Eyre” from the library and is assigned to do 50 hours of community service. She is to help Vivian Daly an elderly wealthy widow to clean her attic. During the cleaning process Vivian reveals to Molly about being an Irish immigrant orphan and was on the New York City to Minnesota Orphan train. Vivian and Molly have connected because of both of them are orphans. Vivian tells of going from family to family under hardship, hatred, abuse. Everything stripped from her including her Irish name. Molly’s history teacher assigns the class an oral history project and they are to interview someone. Molly decided to interview Vivian and write her story. Her teacher is impressed with her report and nominates her for a national award and scholarship. As the story end Vivian has learned to use the computer with Molly’s help and is tracking down the other riders from her train car. The author does a good job of trying up the story at the end. Jessica Almasy does a good job narrating the book.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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