Orphan Train is a story about two different people whose lives are connected in so many ways, yet they are separated in age by about 75 years. Ninety-one-year-old Vivian Daly lives alone in an old Victorian house, when 17-year-old Molly gets assigned to clean her attic as part of a community service project to avoid juvenile detention. The project that begins as a punishment for Molly turns into an unexpected friendship with Vivian. As it turns out, both of them were unwanted orphans that had been passed from one dysfunctional family to another. Vivian and Molly end up creating an unexpected friendship, built on a trust that comes from a shared background.
Vivian’s story as a youth is tragic, as you get an in-depth view of the desperate circumstances of orphan train riders. Yet it is also hopeful, as you learn how one can overcome such experiences and not let them define you as a person. Although Molly didn’t deal with the same problems as Vivian, her experiences in the foster care system were less than ideal and made her feel just as unwanted. She eventually learns to let others in and create her own version of a loving family. This is a great historical fiction read and left me wanting to learn more about orphan train riders and their stories.