Friday, January 31, 2014

Orphan Train --- Discussion

Oh my goodness! I loved this book! I am so glad we read it.  I devoured it in less than a 24 hour period.  Sorry, child.  I just couldn't get enough of the story.  I wanted more details, more story and it to go on and on.  I felt so badly for those orphans on the trains.  The way they were made into free labor and looked at in ways of how they could make the adults lives easier not how the adults could make the children's lives easier.  It's so sad too, that even in Molly's present day situation she also had the same negative experiences and how sad that it isn't even that rare.  Not to say that all foster families are like that, but they are not all perfect and loving either.  Children are not responsible for the emotional well-being of adults.  Adults should be responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of children.

1. In the prologue Vivian mentions that her "true love" died when she was 23, but she doesn't mention the other big secret in the book. Why not?

Well for one, a good storyteller doesn't give away the entire book/story in the first pages if they want someone to read it all!  Plus, she was reserved and uncomfortable sharing all her details.

2. What role does Vivian's grandmother play in her life? How does the reader's perception of her shift as the story unfolds?

She reminds her of the life she had.  She really built her up in her memories because those were her only happy times and she cherished them but it was interesting that as an adult she did seem to realize she had sent away her only son's entire family never to see them again and to an unknown future.

3. How did Vivian's first-person account of her youth and the present-day story from Molly's third-person-limited perspective work together? Did you prefer one story to the other? Did the juxtaposition reveal things that might not have emerged in a traditional narrative?

4. In what ways, large and small, does Molly have an impact on Vivian's life? How does Vivian have an impact on Molly's?

5.  When Vivian finally shares the truth about the birth of her daughter and her decision to put May up for adoption she tells Molly that she was "selfish" and "afraid." Molly defends her and affirms Vivian's choice. How did you perceive Vivian's decision? Were you surprised she sent her child to be adopted after her own experiences with the Children's Aid Society?

It was surprising after her experience, but it was also not so surprising.  She did know that babies were always wanted and she also had had SOOO much hurt/distrust and loss in her life that I don't know if she would have been strong enough to be a mother to the baby at that point in time.  I think maybe if she had known the truth about what happened to her sister she might have been able to do it.

6. When Vivian and Dutchy are reunited she remarks, "However hard I try, I will always feel alien and strange. And now I've stumbled on a fellow outsider, one who speaks my language without saying a word." How is this also true for her friendship with Molly?

7. Molly is enthusiastic about Vivian's reunion with her daughter, but makes no further efforts to see her own mother. Why is she unwilling or unable to effect a reunion in her own family? Do you think she will someday?

Here is a link to a pbs special on the orphan trains

A link to the Children's Aid society with more info on Orphan Trains

What did you think of the book? Did you like it? What was your favorite part? Something you didn't like?

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