Orphan Train; Kristina Baker Kline

Orphan Train cover art 

Orphan Train; Christina Baker Kline
| published July 26, 2015 |

Book review by Karen Franklin, Thursday Review contributor

I had no idea that the events on which this book is based actually happened in real life. It made me cry, truly, to think what some young children--abandoned or orphaned in large eastern United States cities--were subjected to when they were loaded on to trains, shipped to the Midwest, and "fostered" to families in need of hard laborers, or children to do housework, babysit, etc. Yes, there were a few who were adopted, maybe even a few of these happily so. I imagine it was a small percentage.

There are two heroines in this novel: an older woman who experienced this terrible trek and an older teenage girl who has also been abandoned by her mother after her father's untimely death. She is fostered to many families, but eventually is assigned punitive work with the older woman to clean out the latter's attic.

It is enlightening and poignant reading--not just the discoveries in that attic but the discoveries of "self" experienced by the two women.

Related Thursday Review Articles:

The Book of Unknown Americans; Cristina Enriquez; book review by Kristy Webster; Thursday Review; March 6, 2015.

The Empathy Exams: Essays; Leslie Jamison; book review by Kristy Webster; Thursday Review; December 1, 2014.