Another quick, easy cry fest. The Orphan Train tells the story of two women. Vivian, in her 90s, lost her parents in a fire when she was just a girl and traveled out west on the so-called “orphan train” where was she taken in by a series of families, and suffered a series of traumas, before finding a family that provided her with a stable, if not loving, environment. Molly Ayer, a de facto orphan living with resentful foster parents, helps Vivian clean out her attic as part of her community service.
The book is told in present day, exploring the parallels between Molly’s experience and Vivian’s own, as Molly uses technology to help Vivian reconnect with and understand her past. And Molly develops over the course of the story, maturing a little as she realizes she is not actually as alone as she feels. The book also uses flashbacks to tell Vivian’s story, when Vivian was young.
I loved the Vivian flashbacks. I kind of wish the entire book was written in Vivian’s youth, about her experiences living with abusive families and sweatshop conditions. And the ultimate home she finds is financially stable yet oddly cold, still leaving Vivian without a true home. Her love story was almost perfect as well, and it’s tragic ending was only amplified by all of the suffering Vivian had endured before.
Worth a read if you’re interested in adoption, fostering or the history of adoption in America.