Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

About the Book

A long journey from home and the struggle to find it again form the heart of the intertwined stories that make up this moving novel. Foster teen Molly is performing community-service work for elderly widow Vivian, and as they go through Vivian’s cluttered attic, they discover that their lives have much in common. When Vivian was a girl, she was taken to a new life on an orphan train. These trains carried children to adoptive families for 75 years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the Great Depression. Novelist Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009) brings Vivian’s hardscrabble existence in ­Depression-era Minnesota to stunning life. Molly’s present-day story in Maine seems to pale in comparison, but as we listen to the two characters talk, we find grace and power in both of these seemingly disparate lives. Although the girls are vulnerable, left to the whims of strangers, they show courage and resourcefulness. Kline illuminates a largely hidden chapter of American history, while portraying the coming-of-age of two resilient young women.
–Bridget Thoreson

Events Brochure – Outside

Events Brochure – Inside

Book Club Discussion Questions

Additional Discussion Questions about Orphan Train

Three Questions Every Book Club Asks Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train Recipes for Book Clubs

Tosa’s All-City Read Essay Contest Winners

Wauwatosa is home to some great budding writers. The following writers won cash prizes and gift certificates in Tosa’s All-City Reads’s Essay Contest on “portaging,” a subject discussed in Orphan Train.

Grades 3-5

First Place:                Wisconsin to Louisiana                   Eleanor Hannan

Second Place (tie):   Leave It or Bring It                           Dory Fulcher

Second Place (tie):   Moving and Fitting In                       Ciara Strath

Third Place:              My Trip to China                                 Kate Pluta

Grades 6-8

First Place:                Leaves on Trees                                   Trinity Petri

High School

First Place:                Bringing an Empty Locket: Fulfillment of Character in Washington, D.C.         Gabrielle Johnsen


First Place:                We Would Carry Us: Walking the Prairie on a Wagon Train           Angela Mallooly

Second Place:          What I’ve Left Behind at Forty                   Bobby Pantuso

Third Place:              Keeping Stories                                           Jeanne Lehninger