From 1854 to 1929, a “massive seventy-five-year social experiment” impacted the lives of more than 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children who were transported under the care of the Children’s Aid Society from U.S. coastal cities to the Midwest. The children were supposedly adopted by families, but many spent miserable years as indentured servants.
Christina Baker Kline sets her main character, Vivian, within this bleak historical context. When she is still a child, Vivian’s family meets with tragedy and she is sent to Minnesota on an orphan train. Years later, when she is 90 years old, her untold story emerges as she spends time with a hostile and bitter teenaged girl, a foster child who in turn shares her own story with Vivian. As their stories unfold, fascinating juxtapositions occur.
This informative novel deals not only with the injustices committed against many vulnerable children, but also those perpetrated against Native Americans and immigrants from different ethnic groups. (HarperCollins)