19 January 2014

Orphan Train; Christina Baker Kline

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I so wanted to give this five stars, but there were a few things that made me rethink that rating:

- the treatment of Dina, because she's a conservative, fundamentalist Christian. The way she's depicted was without any redeeming quality (much the same as Kline treats the people in the first of Naimh's "homes"). In the case of the places Naimh stays, my hope is that Kline was trying to show how difficult the lives these children led once they got off the trains; the Depression didn't help, of course, but the cruelty that they experienced was more to be expected than kindness. But Molly's foster mother, Dina, seems to be hateful because of her beliefs, nothing more. And that bothered me.

- Vivian's sudden embrace of all things technological was too fast, too much. Her initial impression, that she wasn't missing much, was just fine. Why such a turn-around? It wasn't necessary.

- I hate ( hate ) the "if you're an orphan/adoptee you must find your 'real' family" motif. It's Oprah at her very worst and sends such a bad message to people who are quite frankly ok with not meeting their genetic family, not to mention those who have but have had a bad experience and are actually worse off for having met them.

None of this is to say that there aren't awful conservatives, or that every adoptee-finds-their-roots search ends badly, or that old people can't take to technology. But those felt shoehorned into a book already teeming with coincidences (was anyone surprised that Vivian was Naimh?) and lessened what could have been a very powerful book about the orphan trains.

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