- Three Questions Every Book Club Asks Christina
- Christina Answers the Top Ten Questions Book Clubs Ask (video)
- The Story Behind The Writing Of Orphan Train
- Orphan Train Reading Group Guide
- Orphan Train Historical Background
- Audiobook Samples
- Christina On Air With Book Club Girl
- Vivian Daly’s 1929 Orphan Train Journey
- Was Vivian Daly’s Journey Historically Accurate?
- “Vivian’s Choice: An Expanded Scene from Orphan Train” Harper Collins, 12/13/2016
- Christina’s Facebook Author Page
- Wikipedia Page: Orphan Train
- FAQs about the orphan trains (National Orphan Train Complex)
- Real-life train rider stories (National Orphan Train Complex)
- PBS documentary about the orphan trains
- Orphan Train Riders of New York website
- President of the New York Train Riders (and train rider descendant) Renee Wendinger’s website
- Article about a “One Community, One Read” event in Hutchinson, MN, with further stories and resources
1. How close are the events you describe in the novel to real life? Did you exaggerate/make things up? How important was it for you to stick to the facts?
2. Did you know everything that would happen in the novel when you started, or did you change things as you went along?
3. And finally… the question every book club asks… (spoiler alert!)
- How close are the events you describe in the novel to real life? (00:19)
- Did situations like the Grotes’ home really exist? (01:19)
- Was it common for train riders to keep their experiences secret? (02:35)
- How did most train riders ultimately feel about having been put on a train? (03:50)
- Did the research for this book give you a bleak perspective of human nature? (05:48)
- Why did you write a novel – and not nonfiction — about the orphan trains? (07:47)
- Did you know everything that would happen in the novel when you started, or did you change things as you went along? (09:00)
- Why did Maisie have to die? (10:57)
- Why didn’t you show the reunion between Vivian and Sarah? (11:58)
- And finally … the question every book club asks: Why did Vivian give away her daughter? (13:28)
One holiday season, about a decade ago, an unexpected blizzard changed the course of my life. Visiting my mother-in-law in Fargo, North Dakota, for a week with my husband and three young sons, we woke up one morning in the dark, the windows blanketed with snow. The boys shrieked, threw on ski pants, and ran outside to make snow angels and igloo tunnels, but after a few minutes they trudged back inside, icicles dripping from their noses and boots full of slush. As the snowfall grew heavier we watched the cars in the driveway disappear, along with any dreams we might have had of going sledding or shopping.
There was no escape: we were housebound. On the second day, after several interminable games of Sorry with my younger two boys, I escaped to find their bookish older brother, Hayden, on his stomach in the living room, leafing through a publication I’d never seen before. Called “Century of Stories,” it was a celebration of Jamestown, ND’s centennial in 1983, filled with articles and photographs. “Hayden, there’s a story in there about my dad, your great-grandfather, that might interest you,” my mother-in-law, Carole, was saying. I knew that Carole had grown up in Jamestown and that her father, a taciturn and somewhat aloof man, had been president of the local bank – but that was all. So it was quite a surprise to read the article about him, “They called it ‘Orphan Train’: And it proved there was a home for many children on the prairie.”
- On the surface, Vivian’s and Molly’s lives couldn’t be more different. In what ways are their stories similar?
- In the prologue Vivian mentions that her “true love” died when she was 23, but she doesn’t mention the other big secret in the book. Why not?
- Why hasn’t Vivian ever shared her story with anyone? Why does she tell it now?
Like my four previous novels, my novel Orphan Train is about cultural identity and family history. For the first time, however, I am undertaking a project that requires a large amount of historical, cultural, and geographical research. My novel traces the journey of Vivian Daly, a now-90-year-old woman, from a small village in Ireland to the crowded streets of the Lower East Side to the wide-open expanses of the Midwest to the coast of Maine. Her life spans nearly a century, encompassing great historical change and upheaval…
Vivian Daly’s 1929 Orphan Train Journey
Volunteers used the information in Orphan Train to develop a train trip itinerary for Vivian Daley using the Official Railroad Guide from 1929. Many railroad historians and rail fans helped with this project via various railroad historical societies and Yahoo groups on the Internet.