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The Bibliophiliac’s Corner – Orphan Train

Connection writer Amanda Merriman admits she is hopelessly addicted to books.  It has been this way nearly all her life.  Every month she will share what she has been reading with the hope that others will share in her obsession too.

Christina Baker Kline, author of this month’s book selection, found inspiration for the novel Orphan Train in an unanticipated way.  On a trip to the Midwest to visit family, Kline learned about a time in American history that planted the seed for her latest work.  Kline learned that from 1854 to 1929, large numbers of orphaned children from cities on the east coast were taken to the Midwest to be adopted by families there.  Kline’s creation of Orphan Train has given readers a novel backdrop to explore some of Kline’s frequently written themes concerning family, culture, and internal struggles.

Orphan Train’s narrative weaves seamlessly between the lives of two main characters.  One storyline begins in 1929 with Vivian who is taken in by the Children’s Aid Society after losing her family.  The other is set in present day and introduces the reader to the novel’s other main character named Molly, a child who has navigated through the waters of foster care.  Kline’s conversational writing style and careful attention to detail makes it easy for bibliophiles to transition between the storylines without frustration.  Orphan Train unflinchingly delves into the ramifications of separation from cultural heritage, the definition of family, and to the perhaps surprising similarities of bereft children in America’s past and present.  Kline packs the key characters of this poignant tale with emotional depth and complexity in their motivations.  Readers of Orphan Train will think about Molly and Vivian long after the book is finished and may be inspired to learn more about this time in American history.

Fellow bibliophiles and book club members, feel free to join in the dialogue.  Blog your thoughts and feedback at and enter the keyword “bibliophiliac” in the search bar.  Have you read a great book recently?   Don’t keep that juicy tidbit all to yourself.  Email your find to me at



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