I very rarely pay for books for my Kindle. If I do pay, I don’t pay more than a few dollars. There are literally thousands of free books out there that I haven’t read yet and for the newer, popular books, I can always just put myself on the waiting list for the library e-copy.
The one exception I make it for book club. Even though we plan months in advance so we all have time to read the books and not spend a fortune doing so, I always read it last minute so end up paying through the nose for it. If I read the book two months before we discuss it, I’ll never remember what it was about since I’ll easily have read 20+ books in between. So I usually wait until about 4 days before we meet to start the book. Only once has that backfired on me and I didn’t quite finish.
This month, we read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I was so excited to read it. Multiple friends had raved about it and it has thousands of 5 star reviews on Amazon. So even though it crushed my not-paying-for-books-soul a little, I coughed up the $9.99 to buy it the night before book club.
I so wish I hadn’t. Seriously, I didn’t get the hype. Most of the members of my book club completely disagreed so I’m obviously in the minority. But still.
The story is a standard orphan train story. A girl is plucked off the streets of New York after family tragedy and shipped via train across the US, ultimately ending up in a non-distinct midwestern town. She experiences hardship but triumphs. She reunites with some of the people she once knew and never sees others again. More than any other orphan train book I can recall reading, this one wrapped up in a neat little bow. That’s just not how it works…
I realized after talking with my book club though that many of them weren’t familiar with orphan trains at all. To them, this was all very exciting. To me, it was old hat. I loved orphan trains when I was a kid. (Actually, I loved pretty much anything where kids didn’t have parents. I have no idea why because my parents were – and still are – awesome.)
So if you’re looking to learn more or don’t want to jump on the Orphan Train bandwagon, let me recommend a few other books for you to try. Or simply do some Googling and learn more. It’s a fascinating time during our country’s history and I don’t think Kline did it justice at all.
That being said, my book club as a whole loved it so I guess I should just be happy they learned something about a time in history they hadn’t encountered before?
Books I’d recommend include…
Lost at the Junction, by Cindy Schuster
I wrote about this one ages ago and even gave away a copy. It’s charming and delightful and I find it much better written than Orphan Train.
The Orphan Train Adventure Series, by Joan Lowery Nixon
Ok, I can’t promise this is as amazing as I remember it being because I read these when I was much, much smaller. They are definitely very young adult fiction. But I remember loving them. They follow a family who is split up because of the orphan train. I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy soon so I can reread them. Couldn’t believe they were still in print even!