July 7, 2013

Orphan Train

Publisher:  Audible, Inc
Format: Audio
Narrated: Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren
Length: 8hrs 21 minutes
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Source: Own audio file.

Summary from Goodreads.
This is the story of two very different women who build a friendship: a 91 year old woman with a hidden past as an orphan train rider and the teenaged girl whose troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly takes up a community service project with an elderly woman to help her clear out her attic. In Vivian Daly's attic are vestiges of her turbulent past. As Molly helps Viv sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. Both are outsiders, both with unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers tumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers that have haunted her, her entire life. Answers that will ultimately free them both.

What an amazing book by Christina Baker Kline and an excellent one to listen to.  This story brought to life the plight of many thousands of orphans placed on trains and sent west to such places as Minnesota from the 1850's to the 1920's.  Most of them taken by people not because they wanted to meet the needs of the orphans but because they wanted to meet their own needs.   The worst and best of human nature is portrayed.

Niamh is a young Irish girl, her family lost in a fire.  She is so young, about 8 - 9 years when she is placed on the train.  Already she has had to shoulder the responsibilities of an adult.  So many of these orphans had no childhood, thrust into hard labour and poor circumstances by hard hearted adults.  Her life journey is riveting reading or in my case listening.

Molly a present day foster child and ward of the state is lost and in need of acceptance, love  and security.  She explores Vivian's past and in so doing finds herself and what she is looking for.  Both these characters were gritty, and yet so human, their life experiences shaping them and drawing them close to each other.

The narrators were very good, the Irish accent was not really attempted, and if you can't do it well then it is perhaps best just to leave it.  I liked the way voices were changed and I found that the narration supported rather than detracted from the plot.

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