Orphan Train

Kline, Christina Baker

Thank goodness this was a compelling read because I had only a few days to finish it before it was due back at NYPL. I came home from the Zine Librarians unConference to five books ready to be picked up, three of them two-week loans. Now I have just over a week to finish the other two. Never mind, they were both renewable. Phew!

So yeah, Orphan Train shares parallel stories of two quasi-orphans making their way through harsh adoption/foster conditions about eighty years apart. The elder, an Irish immigrant at a time when the Irish were viewed with open hostility in the US, is taken to the Midwest via orphan train in the 1920s after a fire claims her family. In the name of Christian goodness, children were given away, often to be used as servants. Flash forward to the early 21st century and you get foster parents paid to "care" for a child they seem to hate.

Sound dreary? It actually isn't. It's really kind of heartstring tugging. The two orphans are likable characters and their stories believable. The younger is part Penobscot Indian, and there's a bit of American Indian history and lore that colors the story in a thoughtful way.

Though the copy I borrowed is from the adult section, I think it might be better classified as YA.

Jul 27 2013