Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

“So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason – to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?”

I HIGHLY recommend this book! After 8 months since I last read for leisure (see my last book review, The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley), I was pleasantly surprised to be so drawn into reading again, especially with a book this good! I picked it from the “new books” section at the library because it said New York Times bestseller on the cover. I also found out that it has 4.5 stars with 94,000+ votes on goodreads, so I decided to give it a try. This book would hopefully get me back into reading, and it sure did! The book was so captivating that I stayed up reading until 1 AM two nights in a row because I couldn’t put the book down.

Orphan Train is a story of two very different women, a rich 91-year-old widow and a 17-year-old foster care girl, who build an unexpected friendship. Helping the elderly widow clean out her attic for 50 hours will serve as the girl’s community service to get out of juvenile hall. As the girl helps the old lady go through boxes of her treasured possessions, she finds out that the two of them have more in common than they think – a troubled past and a longing for family and home.

The author does a beautiful job of balancing out the book to tell about the two women’s lives and weaving the present and past together. The present day story spans over a few months and the historical story over 23 years. It’s hard to find a book that tells separate storylines so well and doesn’t make you want to skim through one section just to get to the other section (like when you fast forward all the old people parts of “The Notebook” just so you can watch the young love between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams haha). This book never has a dull moment.

As a realistic fiction novel, it also helped me to learn about a time in history between 1854 and 1929 when 200,000+ orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children from the East Coast were transported on “orphan trains” to the Midwest for adoption. Families were encouraged to save these children from poverty and depravity. But more often than not, these children became indentured servants to their host families. In addition, this book helped me to understand the loneliness and heartbrokenness of orphans who are thrown into homes after homes and the desire to belong and be accepted and loved.

This book helped me to not only reflect and appreciate things I easily take for granted, but also got me back into reading! So what should my next book be? Please follow my 2015 Reads on the sidebar menu of my blog, and I highly encourage you to read Orphan Train!

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