UMMBILAL READS: THE ORPHAN TRAIN
BY CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE
Christina, a graduate of Yale, Cambridge University and the University of Virginia was born in Cambridge, England. She has authored five novels, edited anthologies and taught writing to others. The book was published in 2013 and has 288pages. it is a story of suffering, resilience, fear, chance, second chances and fate.
I personally do not like historical fiction but got this as a recommendation from a friend who even went a step ahead to provide me a copy. So I had my reservations before I even started it….
It is about orphan trains, which ran regularly from cities in the east coast to the farmlands on the Midwest carrying orphan children whose fate was dependent on chance. As the train stopped in stations, the children were displayed like clothes in a department store and then adopted by the folks in the Midwest. They were to be taken good care of, provided food, water, shelter and education or where they?
Christina intertwines the lives of 91-year-old Vivian Daly and 17-year-old Molly Ayer who find each other over community service and ultimately become friends. Though they seem nothing like each other, they later realize their lives are not so different. The story switches between happenings in 1929/1930’s and present day 2011. Christina’s description is very vivid and her language clear. She takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions…. joy, heartbreak and then joy and oh yeah!….heartbreak. It is a very realistic story with juicy historic tales about orphans and adoption.Made me wonder though if any of the children on the train were black and how they fared. The book had me turning pages and gasping. one of my favorite quotes was;
“In my nightmares, I am alone on a train, heading into the wilderness, or on a maze of hay bales, or walking the streets of a big city, gazing at lights in every window, seeing the families inside, none of them mine”.
I would definitely read other books by the author but till then I recommend this one to everyone. Read it and see how chance becomes fate.