CHARGE (What was the author trying to say?): To tell the story of the orphan trains of the late 19th and early 20th century, transporting “orphans” from the East Coast of the US to the Midwest.
FACTS: A troubled teen-aged foster child, a 93 year-old woman, and an attic full of memories make an unlikely plot line. Based on the true stories of orphans and other poverty-stricken children removed from big cities and relocated to the mid-West, the novel compresses many of the facts into the story of a survivor of the Orphan Train. As she unravels her story, the retelling acts a catharsis for both the the old woman and the young girl. “What up until this minute has felt like a random, disconnected series of unhappy events she now views as necessary steps in a journey toward…enlightenment is perhaps too strong a word, but there are other less lofty, like self-acceptance and perspective.”
VERDICT (Was the author successful?): Guilty, as charged. This is a beautiful story about a very difficult subject.