Monday, March 23, 2020

45. Orphan Train

Orphan Train. Christina Baker Kline. 2013. 278 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence from the prologue: I believe in ghosts. They’re the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.

Premise/plot: Molly and Vivian are the narrators of Orphan Train. Molly is our seventeen year old heroine. She’s about to age out of the foster care system. Her current placement is not working out for anyone. Dina, her foster mother, is openly hostile and threatening. Ralph is trying to appease his angry wife and the defensive Molly. When Molly is caught stealing a library book, it seems like she might be heading to juvie. But her boyfriend seems to convince all concerned parties that she can put in community service hours helping Vivian, our ninety-one year old heroine, clean and organize her attic. The two spend hours together each week; both have stories to tell, to share. But being vulnerable doesn’t necessarily come naturally to either. Molly and Vivian have a lot to learn from each other.

My thoughts: A few days ago I read Orphan Train Girl at the insistence of my mother. I didn’t realize it was a young readers adaptation of a very adult book. I knew I would have to seek out the adult book.

The narrative of the adaptation is jerky, very jumpy and sometimes awkward in transitions. Every chapter has a section from Molly and a section from Vivian. Neither flows particularly well. But. The stories manage to somehow remain compelling and moving. The focus is on being unwanted and unloved, not belonging. I do think the narrator Molly has been aged down to a much younger age.

The adult book is much better crafted. The narrative flows naturally and easily.

The content is quite different. Niamh-Dorothy-Vivian lives through a lot. Her experiences are quite a bit darker, rougher, adult.

The language is definitely not clean.

I can see why both versions exist. The writing is definitely better in the original. Yet I love the adaptation as well. I love the connection between the two which is strong in both.

© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Lark said...

Christina Baker Kline is fast becoming a favorite author of mine. I really like the way she writes. :)