One book seems to always call for another. I had scarcely finished posting my September 1st blog about Rory’s Promise by Michaela MacColl when my October issue of The Writer came in the mail. (I could wonder why magazines always come the month before their date, but that would be off topic.) This issue had an interview with Christina Baker Kline about her book Orphan Train, also set in the turn of the century phenomenon of relocating New York City orphans on trains heading west.
I watch NCIS and have learned from Leroy Jethro Gibbs that there is no such thing as coincidence. Clearly, this was a call to find Kline’s book. Thankfully, it was in paperback at the bookstore at 30% off.
The books have some differences. Rory’s Promise is listed as middle grade and Orphan Train as adult, a distinction I found insignificant. I enjoyed both, and middle grade has been in my rearview window for quite a while. At least by junior high, bookworms like me at that age, would enjoy Orphan Train.
The train of Rory's Promise drops off one set of orphans in the Midwest and continues on to the wild West for the final destination of its protagonist. Orphan Train has two narratives running parallel, the Irish orphan who begins her story on the train and completes it on the Midwest stop and a present day troubled Penobscot teen who navigates the foster care system. Each of these stories is better than the other.
Besides the orphan train, the books have a couple of things in common. Both are well-researched and tell the story true. Both are the kind of reads that had me holding the book in one hand while stirring the pot on the stove with the other. I recommend reading them back to back to see what different stories two writers can wrest from the same setting.
As for me, I see that Christine Baker Kline has four more novels already out. So I’m adjusting my original premise. In this case, one book leads to another which leads to four more. Cheapskate that I am, I think I’ll look for them first at the library.