Orphan Train has been on my radar since January 2014, when I made plans to attend ALA in Philly, where I would meet author Christina Baker Kline. Due to crazy snow, I missed the trip, and Orphan Train didn't make it to my reading pile for another eleven months. I picked it up Christmas Eve 2014 as I waited for my kids to settle into bed so the hubby and I could wrap and set out presents. Honestly, I picked it up because I was two books shy of my Goodreads goal for 2014 and at 273 pages, Orphan Train was completely doable. Of course, I'd also heard it was good, which helps!
It was good. I started it Christmas Eve night and finished it Christmas night. As an easy to read book with an easy to follow narrative, Orphan Train follows a little discussed piece of history. From 1854 - 1929, orphans from East Coast cities were sent to the Midwest by train, in search of families. Some found families who raised them as their own, while others were taken in as free labor, sometimes neglected and abused.
This fictional account follows an Irish girl, Niamh, who finds herself an orphan on a train headed from New York City to Minnesota. Without giving away any details, let's suffice it to say that Niamh endures hardships akin to children in today's foster care system. Cheering for her all the way, it's sad to think life could seem to really work against a person so much.
I would not rate the book as absolutely amazing, but a good read and perfect addition to my end-of-the-year reading. I hope to find other books on this topic as well.
Anyone find other works, fiction or nonfiction, on this topic?