“You can’t find peace until you find all the pieces.”
A not so well known part of American history are the orphan trains that took children from the East Coast to the Midwest in the 20s and 30s. Many were children of immigrants who either passed away or couldn’t find jobs to support their children. Niamh (pronounced “Neev”) Power is one such orphan.
I picked up this book from a stack that my mother let me borrow. I honestly was quite taken with the story and read through it in just a few nights. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, though. I love getting caught up in a fiction story, but learning something about a true person or event in the meantime.
The author takes the reader back and forth from the present day where Niamh is an old lady sorting through boxes in her attic with a foster girl who needs service hours to when Niamh is a young girl dealing with whatever family chooses to accept her. The story weaves back and forth and reminds readers that without familial love, children build high walls around their hearts.
Molly, the girl who helps the older Niamh sort through boxes, has her own history with going from one foster home to another. As they sort through boxes, they both sort through memories and emotions. Niamh shares secrets with Molly that no one else has ever known.
This book also teaches about this history of the orphan trains and some of the injustices that happened to children who were handed over to unscreened strangers. It highlights that our current foster care system has its flaws as well. Yet, there is a fight in the human spirit, especially in children, and it will not let dreams die easily.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fiction, especially historical fiction. The author did her research before writing this book and has a personal tie to orphans. Her grandfather and his siblings were orphans during the orphan train era. The book has a reading group guide at the end and would be a great book club book.
For more information on the author or orphan trains, visit www.christinabakerkline.com.