Orphan Train provides a glimpse into a little-known period of American history where between 1854 and 1929 more than two hundred thousand homeless children were transported by train from the east coast to the mid-west to be adopted. Often instead of being embraced as part of the family, the child would be forced into indentured servitude. Christina Baker Kline creates a fast moving story of two woman living similar circumstances nearly a century apart. Kline employs a double narrative to expose the parallels between the character’s stories.
Orphan Train is a story that broaches themes such as unwanted children, social services in the past and present, cultural identity, belonging and fate. The present day social services picture did not seem very accurate, however, I have not had much experience with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). My experience is primarily with Adult Protective Services (APS). From what I do know of DCFS it seems that they would be aware of a foster family receiving funds but not actually caring for the child. Perhaps Kline was taking creative license. Regardless of this small criticism Orphan Train was an interesting, good read.