Publisher: William Morrow
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.
Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
Niamh is a little girl who’s come to America from Ireland with her family. Through a series of tragic events she finds herself on a train which is often referred to as an “orphan train”. Something that really did exist in American history.
It’s 1929 and Niamh is off on such a train to find a “family”. Unfortunately, not everyone who answers the ad is looking for a son or daughter. Free labor has it’s appeal after all. Niamh finds herself a friend on a train, a boy named Duchy who promises to find her when they’ve been separated at the first stop. From there we follow Niamh as she becomes Dorothy for a while. Her story is thick with heartfelt emotion and one I couldn’t seem to stop reading.
For Molly, she befriends Vivian and their unlikely friendship roots the foundations of this novel. I learned about both of the characters the way I didn’t think possible. Molly is a teen and angst is expected. It’s there but I found I didn’t want to slap the bejeebuz out of the girl and then call it “angst” in the review. The author had a way of making you understand what Molly was going through and why her actions were validated instead of confusing and frustrating to read.
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