MPPL's staff blog about books, movies, music and the talent behind them.
Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
New: Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Welcome to The Commons. Located an hour and a half outside of Tucson, Arizona, this luxury retirement community is strict in its rules, especially that no one under the age of 55 is allowed to live there. Chaos is unleashed when it’s discovered a resident is permanently taking care of her young grandson. The events unfold from the eyes of three eclectic narrators all dealing poorly with their own personal tragedies: Seth, a young husband, Ben, an older divorcee, and Lily, a teenaged beauty blogger. Breezy yet insightful, You Could be Home by Now by Tracy Manaster is a wacky tale about letting go and moving on.
Title: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Page Count: 278 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Thoughtful, Poignant, Sobering
Summary from publisher:
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. Were the orphan trains a good thing? Why or why not? What, if any, better options were available at the time?
2. What did you notice about the style of writing and how this story was put together?
3. Thinking back on the children that were highlighted in the book, Carmine, Dutchy and Niamh, what were the motivations of the families who took in these orphans? How did these differing motivations affect the children’s lives?
4. What similarities or differences are there between the past as shown in the story and our present foster care system?
5. In what ways are Molly and Vivian similar? How are they different?
6. Do you have things that you don’t use or are stored away but you can’t part with? What are those things and why do you keep them?
7. What would a timeline of Vivian’s life look like? Use a white board to diagram this or just do it verbally. What characterizes each segment of her life?
8. What would a timeline of Molly’s life look like? What characterizes each segment of her life?
9. “You can’t find peace till you find all the pieces.” How is this true in Vivian’s life? How is it true in Molly’s life?
10. Molly’s charms on her necklace are mentioned throughout the story. What is their significance? What did Vivian’s Claddagh cross and Molly’s charms mean to them?
11. How has Molly changed Vivian’s life? How has Vivian changed Molly’s life?
12. Read the prologue aloud to the group. Having read the book and rereading the prologue what does this tell you about Vivian’s view of the people in her past? What does this show about her character?
13. How did you feel about the way the author ended the story? Is Vivian’s happy ending enough?
14. If you were to write additional chapters to the book what would happen to Vivian, to Molly?
15. The American Experience, a PBS show, has a program on the orphan trains. There was also a movie made in 1979 called The Orphan Train. Do you think this book will come to the big screen? Would you want to see it?
If you liked The Orphan Train, try...
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is an achingly beautiful fairy tale retelling. Sorcha has lived an idyllic childhood in the Sevenwaters Kingdom until her mother dies, her father marries a cruel woman, and her brothers are turned into swans. Now alone, Sorcha begins the painful journey of trying to get back everything she lost.
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” These ringing words, written by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 16, 1963 in a Letter from Birmingham Jail, have just as much power and poetry more than fifty years later. Expert narrator Dion Graham lends his voice to this short recording, skillfully calling on a preacher’s rhythms, deep tones, and effective pauses to underscore a call to action that values what is right over keeping the peace. Hear for yourself the passion, eloquence, and conviction that made history once and for all.