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House Party Blog Book Club: Orphan Train Discussion

You guys voted and chose Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline as our November book club selection. The story behind the book is based on this:

"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?"

And while The Orphan Train is fictionalized, it weaves real details into the tale.

Here are some questions from the Reader's Group guide. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any and all of them.

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? And what did you think of this big secret?! (Spoiler alert!: Did you suspect she had had a child?)

3. Why hasn't Vivian ever shared her story with anyone? Why does she tell it now?

4. Why does Vivian seem unable to get rid of the boxes in her attic?

5. What significance, if any, does Molly Ayer's name have?

6. In what ways, large and small, does Molly have an impact on Vivian's life? How does Vivian have an impact on Molly's?

7. What does Vivian mean when she says, "I believe in ghosts"?

8. 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?

9. 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?

10. 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?

Did you like the book? Have you read this author before? Share your thoughts below!

Photo courtesy of Warren Baldwin

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