Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Reading

If you are looking for a good book to read this summer I highly recommend Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. This read may not last you a long time though. I powered through this novel in merely 3 days after receiving it for my birthday.

hope it get adopted soon...


Being an immigrant myself I am a total sucker for any literature about immigration. This one hit the spot. Orphan Train is the story of a young Irish girl who loses her family in a fire shortly after her arrival at Ellis Island from Ireland in the 1929. I had never heard of this part of US history - about the many orphaned immigrant children who were sent from Eastcoast cities by train out West to be adopted, or  rather, as happened in many cases, to be enslaved by families in midwestern towns...

Baker Kline's gripping tale not only talks about the plight of the orphan children from long ago; she manages to intertwine their story with the plight of the modern day orphan child struggling to survive in the US fostercare system.

Other than some very negative portraits I have observed on various TV shows and the stories I have read in the newspapers, I really don't know much about the US fostercare system. There must be decent people out there who do take in orphaned children and do a good job of it one hopes... But from the depiction in Baker Kline's  novel one definitely gets the idea that a lot of children suffer from abuse and do not fare well in this system. I found the parallels to the orphan children from long ago quite astounding.

I hope you give this book a try. And as you read don't forget that somewhere down the line your folks came from another place. How often were your ancestors haunted by this question: What would my life have been like if I had stayed in my home country? I leave you with one of the many passage that touched me deeply...

"My parents left Ireland in hopes of a brighter future, all of us believing we were on our way to a land of plenty. As it happened, they failed in this new land, failed in just about every way possible. It may have been that they were weak people, ill suited for the rigors of emigration, it's humiliations and compromises, its competing demands of self-discipline and adventurousness....
In Kinvara, poor as we were, and unstable, we at least had family nearby, people who knew us. We shared traditions and a way of looking at the world. We didn't know until we left how much we took those things for granted." (page.32)


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