Thursday, July 8, 2010

Orphan - John R. Weber

In the midst of the Depression Homer's life is uprooted with the simple sentence, 'You're an orphan Homer.' This single sentence rocker Homer's world. He couldn't believe that HIS parents were NOT his parents. After everyone goes to bed the night of the big revelation he finds a paper that says his parents can take him out of school after he is 13 and they have to pay him like a hired hand when he is 17 and no longer have to care for him after he turns 18. Homer always assumed he would farm with his dad and eventually take over, but now he is only good enough to be a hired hand?? Homer runs away and decides he needs to find his own parents and find out why they gave him up.

All he knows is he came on an orphan train, his real name and that he came from New York City. After holing up in a barn for a few days he decides that he HAS to go to NYC and find his parents. The only way to do so? Jumping trains of course. He is too scared to go by himself so he convinces Jamie, his best-friend to go with him.

The boys hop on the first train heading east out of their small Iowa farm town. The first time they hop off in Kansas City, is almost their last day on this earth. They are as green to the rails as fresh sailor in the sea. They walk right up to a bull (railroad detective) and the meanest one around at that, to ask directions. He badly beats Homer and almost violates Jamie in the most intimate of ways, until he is stopped by Smilin' Jack. Jack befriends the boys and introduces them to the hoboing life.

The boys have many adventures before they reach NYC and their friends Sam's house. They encounter a whorehouse, rich people unaffected by the Depression and the kindness of many strangers.

When they reach NYC Homer has finally reached the place that holds all of his answers. Will he get them???

I have to say when I started Orphan, I almost didn't even finish it. But I had REQUESTED it, and the premise sounded so good. So I stuck through the first 50 or so pages where I wanted to smack the author and forged on. I am so glad I did. The book completely picks up as soon as the boys hit the rails and it doesn't disappoint anymore. I enjoyed the history that is thrown in and the young adults that this book is aimed at, will be none the wiser.

My problem with the first 50 pages, was the writing. It sounded soooo dumbed down and so simple. Yes the book is for a younger crowd, but it was just ridiculous. When they hit the rails, it is either less noticeable to me because of the action taking place or it indeed did pick up. Almost, like the author became more sure of himself. Regardless, if you are interested in hobos or the Depression era this would be an interesting read for you!

I received this book through the Traveling Arc Tours.

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