Reviews of Last Pick

What some Cove Book Club members had to say!

❦ Review by Melissa:

This is a great piece of historical fiction. It tells the tale of an Irish girl who boards the orphan train in New York as an 8 year old and heads to the Midwest. She is adopted into "families" that are really looking for a laborer, a babysitter or a surrogate wife. Eventually she finds a spot to at least feel safe in and she becomes a strong woman who has overcome great obstacles.

Also told is a parallel story of Molly, a teenager in the foster system, who begins to help elderly Vivian sort through things in her attic in order to complete community service hours. The two form a bond that surpasses the generation gap.

I loved this book. The writing was wonderful. The characters were interesting and the storylines kept me totally engaged. I highly recommend it.

❦ Review by Laurie:

Reading the Orphan Train by Christina Baker-Kline was a real joy! 

I love Historical Fiction and this reminded me exactly why I do. This story brings the reader into the lives of two central characters; separated by age and culture brought together by fate who are uniquely connected as being an orphan of sorts.

Vivian (previously named Niemh, Dorothy) is a fiesty 91 year old who engages Molly a 17 year old to organize her attic. Their union provides Vivian the opportunity to re-examine her life through another's eyes. Molly is saved by getting into further trouble with the law over a stolen copy of Jane Eyre, agrees to the job. First you think these two couldn't be further apart by age and situation, but that slowly melts when both share remnants of their lives, their losses and their loves.

The author takes us into the world of Niemh, who at an early age suffers the loss of her family and is reclassified as an orphan. Desperate to find homes for so many displaced children, the government puts them on "Orphan Trains". Niamh, who gets renamed Dorothy is one such child. We witness her vulnerability, her maturity beyond her years and watch her story unfold as it is told to Molly as the contents of her life in boxes are opened.

In parallel we get to know Molly and her tragic story of being abandoned by her Mother who is mentally unwell and ill equipped to be a parent. Both orphans with different origins. Vivian opens Molly's eyes to see that her life can be transformed and restores in her a sense of belonging and purpose. Molly learns there can be a future beyond her early pain and loss and begins to find her place in the world.

This is a story rich with pain and redemption. A story of awakening and hope for a tomorrow that may be a little sweeter and kinder than the day before.