Reading Roundup: Bealeton Book Club Enjoys Orphan Train

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The Orphan Train book cover - small girl looking out a train window Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline, was read and discussed by the Bealeton Book Club in May. The book club members enjoyed the book, which is a mix of historical and contemporary fiction.

Molly Ayer is a Penobscot Indian who has ended up in foster care. Rather than being sent to juvenile detention, she agrees to do community service hours and aid Vivian Daly, an elderly woman, with cleaning out her attic.

Vivian became an orphan in New York City in 1929 at the age of nine. She was sent by the “orphan train” to the Midwest. She was put into various homes, first as basically an indentured servant, then in a home with an unsafe environment, then finally in a home with the Nielsens. She constantly lost those she loved along with her identity, as her name was changed several times. The novel covers her immigration from Ireland, her life in New York City’s tenements, her voyage on the orphan train, and her subsequent life in various homes, all told in rich detail. Molly helps Vivian discover answers to some mysteries in her past and they realize that they have much in common. This is an easy and fascinating read with rich historical details and an inspiration to “travel light” and endure what life brings.

If you would like to read similar titles, try these:

All She Ever Wanted by Lynn Austin
All Together in One Place by Jane Kirkpatrick
Empire Rising by Thomas Kelly
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Orphan Train Trilogy by Linda Lael Miller
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

For documentaries and non-fiction titles, try:

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Orphan Train Rider: One Boy’s True Story by Andrea Warren (children’s book)
The Orphan Trains (DVD)
Shutting out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, 1880-1924 by Deborah Hopkinson (children’s book)
We Rode the Orphan Trains by Andrea Warren (children’s book)

The Bealeton Book Clubs meet once per month. If you would like to join us, please check our schedule for dates, times, and reading selections.
Bealeton Evening Book Club,  Monday, 7:30 p.m.
Bealeton Afternoon Book Club, Thursday 2:30 p.m.

Happy Reading!

Mary Sue, Adult Reference, Bealeton branch library

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