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A beautiful novel, based on an unknown aspect of American history
am 22. Dezember 2014
I haven't heard of the so-called orphan trains before. Intrigued, I started reading… And what Christina Baker Kline made of this topic is not only a totally interesting read, but also a product of very good research.
This is the second book I read by this author. I liked the other one, "Sweet Water", even more, but "Orphan Train" is almost as good. I especially like how Christina Baker Kline develops a story, at first only slowly… but then there's this wow effect at the end which makes her novels so special and unforgettable.
The main characters are Vivian, the orphaned train rider who at 91 years of age tells her fascinating story, and 17 year old Molly, also an orphan, who helps old Vivian to clean up her attic. Vivan's story starts in 1929, when 9 year old Vivian (at that time called Niamh) loses her parents and is sent from New York to the Midwest with an orphan train, into an uncertain future. Molly's present time story is told simultaneously. Again, like in "Sweet Water", the author interweaves the stories of an old woman and a young girl. And again, she does it masterly.
The book couldn't consistently enthrall me though. There were some chapters in between which I found a bit tedious, which leads to only 4 points. But the ending is really great! I also shed some tears.
An intriguing story, rich and beautiful language, strong characters… this is a novel one cannot forget so easily.