KPL Reading Together: Christina Baker Kline – Author of “Orphan Train”

By: Haley Chopp, Social Media/Marketing Intern

Born in England, writer Christina Baker Kline has captured us with her writing and recent novel, Orphan Train. Scoring a number one spot for her best-seller, Orphan Train is only one of the many accomplishments that she has achieved. In addition to her novel writing she has also shared her opinions and ideas with us through nonfiction books, essays and articles. Her work has been seen in publications such as the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle among others. While traveling promoting her new book, she had the opportunity to stop in and speak with us in Kalamazoo.

Orphan Train in one sentence, pretty much, is the story of a 91-year old woman with a hidden past as an orphan train rider. It also involves a 17-year old girl who’s in foster care, she’s part native American, she’s sort of in and out of trouble, she’s had a rough time of it, steals a book from a library and has to do community service and her community service is cleaning out that old woman’s attic.” – Christina Kline

The story captures the past of a woman who took a journey on the orphan train and the experiences she went through. This book takes a glance into a part of time when the largest migration, a quarter of a million, children took place over 75 years. Feeling called to share this story with the rest of the world, Christina decided that this was something that needed to be written. Traveling around she was able to meet and talk with decedents and first-hand riders of the orphan train. Uncovering the events that happened including traumatic incidents, living situations, and prejudice and discrimination that these train riders’ experienced helped readers to understand what these children went through.

During her speech in Kalamazoo, Christina shared with us pictures that she found, experiences that she went through during writing the book, and feelings that she felt throughout the process. Her book is based on all true facts that she uncovered in her research. The book brings to light the struggles that children went through and the tragedies that they experienced. As one orphan train rider told her during an interview, “Every single one of us who’d ridden on an orphan train had been through some tremendous trauma otherwise we wouldn’t have been there, the trains were the last resort.” – Christina Kline

Take a look at our time with Christina in this video to help understand more about what these children went through and to take a leap back in time. This book was written to bring attention to what happened and gives people the chance to put themselves into the shoes of these orphans during the train ride of their lives.