Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Orphan Train

I know that it's been a while, and I decided that I want to get this blogging ball rolling again, so I thought I would start out with a book review.
I've read 48 books so far this year (which is just two away from my goal, yay!), and I've read a lot of fantastic books. I thought though, that I would start out with the book that I most recently finished: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.
Orphan Train is a novel set both in 1929, and the modern day. The 1929 narrative follows a young girl named Niamh, who, after both her parents die in a fire in New York, is sent on an orphan train to hopefully be adopted by a nice family. Of course, that doesn't happen. The modern day story line follows Molly, a foster girl who is seventeen and almost out of the system, when she is caught stealing something and is forced to do community service, helping out an old woman clean out her attic.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I picked it up because I didn't really know anything about orphan trains. I thought that they were more of a 19th century thing, but apparently they were around until 1929. The book really reminded me of Out of the Dust, a novel about the dust bowl. Perhaps it was because it was a similar midwest setting and because the character of Billie Jo is similar to that of Niamh.
The thing that kept me reading this novel was Kline's writing style. I loved it. It portrayed complex ideas very simply, and the whole novel made perfect sense.  I could understand the characters and their ways of thinking very clearly. She painted a very understandable picture of the 1930s with everything from clothing style to the socially accepted ideas of the time.
I loved Niamh's story from beginning to end. She was likable from the start to the very end, and you could see her development throughout the novel. Her story is a roller coaster ride from beginning to end, with a sideshow of people with both good and bad intentions.
With that said, was a little skeptical with Molly's timeline. She was a very angsty, bitter, and misunderstood, and I didn't particularly care for the way in which the foster parents were portrayed. They were racist and only in it for the money, and the mother was really mean while the father had a soft spot for Molly, and it all just seemed very cliche. However, I did really enjoy the bits of Native-American history that were tied in with Molly and her history. I really liked the way in which she started to open up to Vivian, the old woman, and I thought it showed how truly important it is to be able to talk about your own history.
I gave this novel 4/5 stars.

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