THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN HOME by Erika Tamar

THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN HOME

Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Tamar (Alphabet City Ballet, 1996, etc.) has fashioned a rich narrative around the little-known but remarkable historical phenomenon of the orphan train. The novel opens more than 150 years ago on a train leaving the poverty-stricken tenements of New York City. Three immigrant siblings: Sean the oldest at 13, Deirdre, 11, and Jimmy, 3—have been given away by their destitute, homeless mother. The Children’s Aid Society gathers up the three—who, along with dozens of other “orphaned” children, board a train that stops intermittently in rural towns where they are displayed to prospective adoptive parents. Jimmy is the first to be chosen, prompting the devastating realization that they will all be separated. A well-meaning but distant reverend and his cold wife take in Deirdre, who is pegged as an outcast and a charity case within the new and unfriendly community. Terribly lonely and unhappy, she is desperate to find her brothers, so when she finally receives word from Sean, she is determined to follow him to Texas. When a vaudeville show stops in town, she recognizes her chance to get out. Within this group of talented misfits, Deirdre discovers a new kind of family and an outlet for her stunning singing voice. When the act finally arrives in Texas and she is reunited with Sean, Deirdre realizes that she must choose for herself where she belongs. A compelling journey into the past with engaging characters, this story manages to avoid sentimentality, and yet still pulls the heartstrings. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-80159-6
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2000




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