Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review: "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline

Hey there! I've changed up my book reviews a bit. My hope is that it looks cleaner and gives you a bit more information, broken down into groups - instead of a jumble of thoughts. Don't worry though,  you'll still get a jumble :) 

"Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by luck or chance. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?
As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.
Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship. "
via Baker Kline's website
I went into thinking that I probably wouldn't. That it would be some foofy (yup, totally a word) grown up story - like old ladies would read for book club. Instead I found an engaging story, interesting characters, and a history lesson! I love a good history lesson. 
The story itself moves between Vivian (a 90 something firecracker) and Molly (a 17 year old juvie bound teenager). You hear from both of their perspectives - their lives, their current situations, and their pasts. It's almost eerie how similar, yet totally 100% different, their lives have been.
Each woman has gone through their share of trials - even some things I wouldn't/couldn't even comprehend going through. They find a way through them, somehow, and come out the other end with a fierceness. Which, I think is their commonality. I believe that we humans are drawn to others, even if it's just by a personality trait or similar taste in music. We all have a tribe that we belong to, whether or not we want one - and it's our job to do our part within that tribe. We don't have to be best friends, but we all have a part to play. We all have great things that we need to do, which, in turn, helps those around is. Making yourself small isn't the goal in life. It's not helping anyone else.

Vivian and Molly found their tribe. It took years, trains, families, harsh conditions, and time - but it happened. And the best part is that through all of that, through all of the mess that life brings, they weren't bitter..not totally. They could have been the biggest jerks on the planet. The people who have so much heavy hate within themselves that they spread it, because that's the only way they know how. But no, Vivian and Molly learned from each other and spread something different. Hope. And we could all use a bit more hope.

1// “I learned long ago that loss is not only probable but inevitable. I know what it means to lose everything, to let go of one life and find another. And now I feel, with a strange, deep certainty, that it must be my lot in life to be taught that lesson over and over again.” 

2// “I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is—a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.” 

3// “People who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.” 

I think you should read it if you're searching. For something tangible, for something emotional, for something spiritual. We're all looking for something - willingly or unwillingly - and when we take the journey there for what it is, a journey - a life - a good thing, that makes searching all the more great. It's alright to want something, but it's not alright not to go find it. 

Vivian and Molly had things they needed. They tried their hardest to stay away - to keep themselves from being hurt - but in the end they couldn't. They were made for something, and they were made to find each other and that's the beauty of this book. It gives you a little bit more hope that you'll come across people that are meant to be in your life. That are meant to change it. And that's just a nice little thought to have.

- C

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