“A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history. Beautiful.”
- Ann Packer, NYT bestselling author of The Dive From Clausen's Pier and Swim Back to Me
Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by luck or chance. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?
As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.
Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship. Click here for more background on Orphan Train.
"Christina Baker Kline's latest wonder, Orphan Train, makes for compulsive reading--this is a story of resilience in the face of tremendous odds and oppressive loneliness. Meticulously researched and yet full of the breath of life, Kline's novel takes us on an historical journey where survival depends upon one's own steely backbone, and the miracle of a large and generous heart."
- Helen Schulman, NYT bestselling author of This Beautiful Life
“In Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline seamlessly knits together the past and present of two women, one young and one old. Kline reminds us that we never really lose anyone or anything or – perhaps most importantly – ourselves.”
- Ann Hood, NYT bestselling author of The Knitting Circle
"I was so moved by this book. I loved Molly and Vivian, two brave, difficult, true-hearted women who disrupt one another’s lives in beautiful ways, and loved journeying with them, through heartbreak and stretches of history I’d never known existed, out of loneliness toward family and home."
- Marisa de los Santos, NYT bestselling author of Belong to Me and Falling Together
“Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train is a poignant and memorable story of two steadfast, courageous women---one young, one old---and their discovery of each other's past as unwanted outsiders. It is a revelation of the universal yearning for belonging, for family, for acceptance and, ultimately, the journeys we must all make to find them.”
- Kathleen Kent, NYT bestselling author of The Heretic’s Daughter and The Traitor’s Wife
"Christina Baker Kline writes exquisitely about two unlikely friends—one, a 91-year-old survivor of the grinding poverty of rural Ireland, immigrant New York and the hardscrabble Midwest; and the other, a casualty of a string of foster homes—each struggling to transcend a past of isolation and hardship. Orphan Train will hold you in its grip as their fascinating tales unfold."
- Cathy Marie Buchanan, NYT bestselling author of The Day the Falls Stood Still and The Painted Girls
“I loved this book: its absorbing back-and-forth story, its vivid history, its eminently loveable characters. Orphan Train wrecked my heart and made me glad to be literate.”
– Monica Wood, New England bestselling author of When We Were the Kennedys
“In this poignant novel Christina Baker Kline weaves a tapestry of the intertwining lives of two women and affirms our hope that the present can redeem the past and that love has a genuine power to heal. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout’s Amy and Isabel, this Orphan Train carries us along until the stories of these two women become one.”
- Mary Morris, bestselling author of Nothing to Declare and Revenge: A Novel