Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline
When my sweet, funny friend Jamie recommended this book, I knew I had to read it immediately. I picked it up at our local bookstore (Subterranean Books, which offers a frequent buyer program that rocks, by the way) and finished it within the week. I remember Jamie telling me how sad she was when she finished the book, and I felt the same way. I did not want this book to end! The story intertwines the lives of two orphans of very different circumstances and generations, bouncing back every few chapters to the other’s story. I found the book to be incredibly heart-wrenching, inspiring, and captivating. It was hard to put down.
Here are some excerpts from first page that gave me chills:
I believe in ghosts. They’re the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened… Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth…
I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is — a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on…
No substitute for the living, perhaps, but I wasn’t given a choice. I could take solace in their presence or I could fall down in a heap, lamenting what I’d lost. The ghosts whispered to me, telling me to go on.
What beautiful words on loss.
Plus, there’s a lot of history here — I learned that the Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that operated between 1854 and 1929, transporting nearly 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children from crowded cities on the East coast to foster homes in the rural midwest. Such an interesting piece of history about which I knew nothing. I highly recommend this one!