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Have you ever listened to an audiobook that left you feeling emotionally moved and intellectually stimulated? Well, “Orphan Train,” written by Christina Baker Kline, is one of those audiobooks. Shortlisted for the 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Historical Fiction novel, it continues to captivate listeners worldwide.

The novel tells a heartwarming and poignant tale of two women, Vivian and Molly, whose lives become intertwined due to unfortunate circumstances. Vivian, a ninety-one-year-old woman, is a former orphan train rider who decides to donate her possessions to charity hours before a devastating hurricane hits her town. On the other hand, Molly, a seventeen-year-old foster child who has had a troubled childhood, is tasked with cleaning Vivian’s attic as part of her community service.

This section will provide an in-depth review of the audiobook version of “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline. We will explore the storyline, narration, historical context, themes, writing style, critical reception, impact on readers, and provide a conclusive audiobook review.

Key Takeaways

  • “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline is an emotionally moving and intellectually stimulating audiobook.
  • The book revolves around the lives of two women, Vivian and Molly, whose lives become intertwined due to unfortunate circumstances.
  • This review will explore the storyline, narration, historical context, themes, writing style, critical reception, impact on readers, and provide a conclusive audiobook review.

Understanding the Plot

The Orphan Train follows the story of Vivian Daly, a now-elderly woman who was taken on a train filled with children in the late 1920s. Vivian and her fellow “riders” were sent from New York City to the Midwest, where they were to be adopted by families looking for children to take care of. The storyline alternates between Vivian’s past and the present story of Molly Ayer, a seventeen-year-old foster child who is assigned to help clean Vivian’s attic. Through this unlikely pairing, the two characters’ stories become intertwined.

The plot of the book is centered on the experiences of Vivian and Molly and their efforts to come to terms with their past. The story is told with flashbacks to the Great Depression era when orphan trains were a common way of finding homes for unwanted children.

The book’s central theme explores identity, resilience, and the importance of family. Both characters have faced significant hardships and emotional trauma, and their journey towards healing is a poignant tale of human perseverance.

“Kline weaves together two remarkable stories…Together, they form a touching and emotional novel that vividly captures the hardship, loneliness, and redemption that grace two lives…Bound to be a book-club favorite.”

The plot of Orphan Train is full of heartwarming moments that are sure to leave readers with a sense of satisfaction. The book is an excellent example of Kline’s amazing storytelling abilities and has won the hearts of many readers and critics.

Narration and Performance

The audiobook version of “Orphan Train” boasts exceptional narration and performance that enhances the overall storytelling experience. The voice actors involved in the production do an excellent job of bringing the main characters to life and immersing listeners in the story.

The pacing is just right, allowing the listener to follow along with ease and not miss any important details. The intonation and delivery are superb, evoking the right emotions at the appropriate moments.

The combination of great narration, excellent pacing, and suitable sound effects makes for an engaging and memorable audiobook experience. Listeners are treated to a quality performance that enhances the depth of the characters and the themes explored in the book.

Emotional Impact

The heartwarming and poignant tale of “Orphan Train” takes listeners on an emotional journey. Christina Baker Kline’s writing style and themes evoke strong emotions and create a heartfelt experience. The story explores the complexities of family, identity, and resilience in the face of adversity, resonating with listeners on a deep level. The vivid descriptions of the characters and their struggles make it easy for listeners to connect with them and feel for them.

The audiobook narration enhances the emotional impact of the story, bringing the characters to life with powerful performances. The voice actors capture the essence of each character and deliver the lines with authenticity, making listeners feel as though they are right there alongside them. Overall, “Orphan Train” is a moving story that leaves a lasting impression on listeners.

Historical Context

The events and setting of “Orphan Train” are influenced by the historical background of the orphan train movement. From 1854-1929, an estimated 200,000 children were transported from East Coast cities to families in rural areas of the Midwest and West. This practice was organized by charitable organizations, whose aim was to place homeless and orphaned children with families who could provide them with a better life.

The orphan train movement was not without controversy, and many children faced abuse and neglect in their new homes. However, the movement is credited with helping to establish the concept of foster care in the United States and sparked conversations and changes in child welfare policies.

“Orphan Train” explores the experiences of two women, one who traveled on the orphan train as a child and one who becomes interested in the history of the movement. Through their stories, the book sheds light on a little-known aspect of American history and the impact it had on children’s lives.

Themes Explored

In “Orphan Train,” Christina Baker Kline explores several themes, each playing a significant role in the story’s emotional impact. The search for identity is a recurring theme throughout the plot, as both the main characters, Molly and Vivian, struggle to define their places in the world.

Resilience in the face of adversity is another essential theme, as Molly and Vivian face many challenges throughout their lives but find ways to overcome them. Kline also explores the significance of family bonds, both blood and chosen, as Molly and Vivian find support and love in unexpected places.

Kline’s masterful weaving of these themes creates a poignant tale that draws listeners in and keeps them engaged until the very end.

Writing Style

Christina Baker Kline’s writing style in “Orphan Train” is a testament to her skill as a writer. Through her use of prose and descriptive language, Kline creates a vivid and immersive experience for readers. Her unique narrative approach keeps readers engaged throughout the story.

Kline’s storytelling techniques reveal her understanding of the complexity and depth of human emotions. Readers are taken on a journey through the eyes of her characters, experiencing their triumphs and struggles in a poignant way. Her writing style offers a heartfelt and emotional experience for listeners, making it a memorable read.

Overall, Kline’s writing style in “Orphan Train” is a shining example of how a skilled writer can use descriptive language and prose to create a touching and thought-provoking story.

Critical Reception

Christina Baker Kline’s “Orphan Train” has received widespread critical acclaim. The book has garnered numerous accolades, including being a New York Times Bestseller, a Goodreads Choice nominee, and a Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Critics have praised Kline’s masterful storytelling, with the Washington Post describing the book as a “poignant page-turner.” The Chicago Tribune called it an “emotional journey that will leave a lasting impact,” while the New York Journal of Books described it as a “heartwarming and thought-provoking tale of resilience.”

Overall, “Orphan Train” has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with readers and critics alike praising its emotional depth, relatable characters, and powerful storytelling.

Impact on Readers

Christina Baker Kline’s “Orphan Train” has left a lasting impact on its readers, sparking thought-provoking discussions and emotional journeys. Many have found the story relatable, connecting deeply with the characters’ struggles and triumphs. The heartwarming and poignant tale of the young orphan girls resonates with readers of all ages, showcasing the power of resilience and the importance of family bonds.

reader reactions

“I couldn’t put ‘Orphan Train’ down. The story was both heartbreaking and inspiring. I found myself cheering on the main characters, hoping they’d find the happiness they deserved. This book is truly relatable, speaking to anyone who’s ever felt lost or alone.”

-Emily, avid reader

“Reading ‘Orphan Train’ was a thought-provoking experience. It made me reflect on the societal issues faced by orphans in the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The book reminded me of the importance of empathy and human connection. It’s truly a work of art.”

-John, book club member

The book has received numerous accolades for its impact on readers, cementing its place as a modern classic. Its themes of identity, resilience, and family resonate with a wide audience, making it a must-read for anyone looking for a relatable and thought-provoking story.


Overall, “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline is a must-listen for audiobook enthusiasts. The storyline is engaging, and the characters are relatable, evoking strong emotions and taking listeners on an emotional journey.

The narration and performance by the voice actors enhance the experience, bringing the story to life with their skillful delivery. The historical context of the orphan train movement adds depth to the setting, while the different themes explored, such as identity, resilience, and family, resonate with a wide audience.

Christina Baker Kline’s writing style is impeccable, with her use of descriptive language and storytelling techniques making this audiobook a true masterpiece.

The critical reception of “Orphan Train” speaks volumes about its quality, and it has left a profound impact on readers, inspiring and thought-provoking.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a heartwarming and poignant tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished listening, “Orphan Train” is the perfect choice. This audiobook review conclusion would not be complete without recommending it to anyone who loves a good story.

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