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This is a story of emotional, and at times, even physical survival. Two orphans, one who is now 91 and the other 17, cautiously reveal their life experiences to each other and find healing and transformation through the sharing. Each has been wounded by a series of cruel life events that have left them both feeling at times alone and vulnerable in life. Each has gone through childhood experiences that left them feeling at the mercy of others, not daring to trust that they could be loved just for being themselves.
91 year old Vivian was a young girl who was put on the train of orphans taken to be resettled in the Midwest just prior to the Great Depression. She must endure many harrowing events before finding any security in life. 17 year old Molly is in the foster care system and has frequently been victimized by her treatment in various homes. She goes to Vivian's house to help her as a condition of working off community service hours rather than go to "Juvie." In the beginning neither can imagine the transformation that will occur as they start going through Vivian's stored possessions, which both hold and evoke the memories of a life she has largely put behind her. Molly, who is at first a prickly, resentful teen, suspicious of anyone who seems to offer her a kindness is slow to warm to Vivian's genuine generosity. This is the story of two women, who on the surface could not be more different, finding the deepest sort of connection through their recognition of similar experiences.
This is a beautiful, touching book, filled with gripping emotional scenes that make it hard to put down. The writing is deeply evocative of the shifts of fortune each young girl is going through, and draws the reader right into the book. I almost felt I would know any of the characters if I were to meet them somewhere. Their courage is inspirational. More than this, though, this book forces the questions of how do we really care for and about those less fortunate? How often do we do things to salve own our conscience without deeply asking what is truly needed by others? This book raises all kinds of social questions about the role of the care and protection of children, and is, in one way, as unsettling at that level as it is heart-warming at another. The narrator is excellent, doing the voice of 91 year old Vivian or 17 year old Molly with equal ease. Such a wonderful listen. Highly recommend!
131 of 138 people found this review helpful
In 1929, an Irish girl whose parents died was shuttled on a train of orphans going to various mid-West stops in hopes of finding placement with a family. It wouldn't be a story if she didn't meet with hardships.
Now an elderly woman, "Dorothy" works with a girl from the foster care system to sort through her belongings. She recalls childhood memories and the two share a bond.
The book is a little predictable, you can guess what will happen, but the trip was worth it. Definitely recommend for an entertaining, fun read.
64 of 69 people found this review helpful
I chose the book as it was on the New York bestseller list. I really enjoyed the way the story developed and especially Niamh/Vivienne's story. I did not particularly enjoy the 2011 part with Molly in it. I had no real interest in her but could see it was part of the setup of the story. It was really hard to read how orphan children were treated and how their lives were so disrupted or aided depending on who took them in. It makes you realise how lucky life is not to have had such experiences in it. I thought the narrative was very good and aided delivery of the story. I would highly recommend it.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This is a lovely sentimental story about two orphaned women who come to see their difficult journeys as meaningful. No surprises really, but satisfying just the same.
What did you like most about Orphan Train?
I liked the pace of the book. I was always keen to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to these characters that you come to really care about.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Vivian was my favourite character because she showed enormous strength of character. She never forgot her past but didn't let it swallow her. She was very pragmatic and was determined to make the most of her future.
Which character – as performed by Jessica Almasy and Suzanne Toren – was your favourite?
Molly and Vivian's characters were both performed extremely well. My favourite would, again, be Vivian because there was more depth to her story.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Some of the events in this book are shocking and frightening and I wished I could step into the story and intervene. It is not, by any means, a miserable book though. It is really rather enlightening.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
the narrator's performance brings the story to life. an interesting and engaging presentation of the history of the orphan trains.