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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Patty Pick for 4/10 is "The Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan TrainThis is a story about a part of our national history that I was unaware of. We shipped orphans out west in the late 1800's to find new homes and it seems we did not do too good a job at monitoring  them or picking new homes for them.

Vivian confronts all life can throw at a person and comes thru to find friendship and family in the end. She begins our tale with a typical Irish family passage to New York from Ireland to find a better life. She is told her family perishes in a fire except for her mother who has been sent to an insane asylum. Vivian is sent to an orphanage that ships her out west to be adopted in exchange for working for the family who will feed and care for her. She meets a fellow orphan named Dutchy who helps her during the trip. 

Her name is changed several times along the way and she meets with misfortune. When the Great Depression hits, her life is turned inside out and she is sent to an even more dreadful situation.  Eventually she reaches a good and caring family and she blossoms. 

We are slowly told this story via Vivian's retelling of it when she is 90 years old to a teenager, Molly, who is doing community service at her house. Vivian unfurls her story in bits and starts. Their connection and what happens to them both next will engage you and keep you reading to find out more.