Orphan Train Discussion Guide: Home
Articles, Interviews, and Reviews
- After Tragedy, Young Girl Shipped West On 'Orphan Train'NPR, April 11, 2013
- Goodreads Reviews: Orphan TrainGoodreads.com
- Additional Reviews/Interviews/Informationchristinabakerkline.com
- History of Orphan TrainsFrom The Children's Aid Society Web Site (www.childrensaidsociety.org)
- The Orphan TrainCBSnews.com, October 2, 2013
Also by the Author
- Bird in HandISBN: 9780688177249A searing novel about four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship--and a life-altering choice that changes everything.
- The Way Life Should BeISBN: 9780060798918Laced with recipes and humor, wisdom and wit, it is at once a clear-eyed portrait of Maine, a compassionate look at modern life and love, and a compelling work of literary fiction that explores the gulf between the way life is and the way we want it to be.
- Desire LinesISBN: 9780688151072On the night of her high school graduation in 1986, Kathryn Campbell's best friend, Jennifer, vanished without a trace. It's been ten years since then, but Kathryn still feels the conspicuous void in her life-and the nagging, guilty sense that she has failed her friend.When a divorce sends Kathryn reeling back to the Maine town where she grew up, the young journalist finds herself face-to-face with her past.
- Sweet WaterISBN: 9780060190330A mysterious bequest, a mother's terrible death, and a daughter's search for the truth about the past yield taut suspense in this powerful first novel.
Videos about Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train
1. Orphan Train book trailer
2. Interview with Christina Baker Kline at the Center for Fiction - Part One
3. Interview with Christina Baker Kline at the Center for Fiction - Part Two
(From author's website)
1. On the surface, Vivian's and Molly's lives couldn't be more different. In what ways are their stories similar?
2. In the prologue Vivian mentions that her "true love" died when she was 23, but she doesn't mention the other big secret in the book. Why not?
3. Why hasn't Vivian ever shared her story with anyone? Why does she tell it now?
4. What role does Vivian's grandmother play in her life? How does the reader's perception of her shift as the story unfolds?
5. Why does Vivian seem unable to get rid of the boxes in her attic?
6. In Women of the Dawn, a nonfiction book about the lives of four Wabanaki Indians excerpted in the epigraph, Bunny McBride writes: "In portaging from one river to another, Wabanakis had to carry their canoes and all other possessions. Everyone knew the value of traveling light and understood that it required leaving some things behind. Nothing encumbered movement more than fear, which was often the most difficult burden to surrender." How does the concept of portaging reverberate throughout this novel? What fears hamper Vivian's progress? Molly's?
7. Vivian's name changes several times over the course of the novel: from Niamh Power to Dorothy Nielsen to Vivian Daly. How are these changes significant for her? How does each name represent a different phase of her life?
8. What significance, if any, does Molly Ayer's name have?
9. How did Vivian's first-person account of her youth and the present-day story from Molly's third-person-limited perspective work together? Did you prefer one story to the other? Did the juxtaposition reveal things that might not have emerged in a traditional narrative?
10. In what ways, large and small, does Molly have an impact on Vivian's life? How does Vivian have an impact on Molly's?
11. What does Vivian mean when she says, "I believe in ghosts"?
12. When Vivian finally shares the truth about the birth of her daughter and her decision to put May up for adoption she tells Molly that she was "selfish" and "afraid." Molly defends her and affirms Vivian's choice. How did you perceive Vivian's decision? Were you surprised she sent her child to be adopted after her own experiences with the Children's Aid Society?
13. When the children are presented to audiences of potential caretakers, the Children's Aid Society explains adoptive families are responsible for the child's religious upbringing. What role does religion play in this novel? How do Molly and Vivian each view God?
14. When Vivian and Dutchy are reunited she remarks, "However hard I try, I will always feel alien and strange. And now I've stumbled on a fellow outsider, one who speaks my language without saying a word." How is this also true for her friendship with Molly?
15. When Vivian goes to live with the Byrnes Fanny offers her food and advises, "You got to learn to take what people are willing to give." In what ways is this good advice for Vivian and Molly? What are some instances when their independence helped them?
16. Molly is enthusiastic about Vivian's reunion with her daughter, but makes no further efforts to see her own mother. Why is she unwilling or unable to effect a reunion in her own family? Do you think she will someday?
17. Vivian's Claddagh cross is mentioned often throughout the story. What is its significance? How does its meaning change or deepen over the course of Vivian's life?
- The Chaperone byISBN: 9781594487019A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 and the summer that would change them both.
If you liked Orphan Train, you might enjoy the following books.
- The Winter Sea byISBN: 9781402261084A hauntingly beautiful tale of love that transcends time. A modern American woman travels to Scotland to write a novel about the Jacobite Rebellion- only to discover that the vivid scenes and the romantic hero she's imagining actually exist... In the spring of 1708, invading Jacobites plot to land the exiled James Stewart on the Scottish coast to reclaim his crown. When young Sophia Paterson travels to Slains Castle by the sea, she finds herself in the midst of the dangerous intrigue. Now, American writer Carrie McClelland hopes to base her next bestselling novel on that story of her ancestors in the dim, dark past.
- The Orphan Trains byISBN: 9780803223608From 1850 to 1930 America witnessed a unique emigration and resettlement of at least 200,000 children and several thousand adults, primarily from the East Coast to the West. This 'placing out,' an attempt to find homes for the urban poor, was best known by the 'orphan trains' that carried the children.
- Orphan Trains byISBN: 9780395841730This dramatic narrative tells the fascinating tale of one of the most famous, and sometimes infamous, child welfare programs: the orphan trains, which spirited away some 250,000 abandoned children into the homes of rural families in the Midwest.
- The Language of Flowers byISBN: 9780345525543A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, "The Language of Flowers" beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.