Christina Baker Kline
author of ORPHAN TRAIN
Novelist Christina Baker Kline shares with Kirkus TV why she thinks readers have connected so well with her runaway bestseller, Orphan Train, and why it was surprising to her that more people don't know about the lost American history of the 20th century she reveals in the novel.


KIRKUS REVIEW

Kline (Bird in Hand, 2009, etc.) draws a dramatic, emotional story from a neglected corner of American history.

Molly is a troubled teen, a foster child bounced from one unsuitable home to another. Vivian is a wealthy 91-year-old widow, settled in a Victorian mansion on the Maine seashore. But Vivian’s story has much in common with Molly’s. Vivian Daly, born Niamh Power, has gone "from cobblestoned village on the coast of Ireland to a tenement in New York to a train filled with children, steaming westward through farmland, to a lifetime in Minnesota." Vivian’s journey west was aboard an "Orphan Train," a bit of misguided 1900s-era social engineering moving homeless, destitute city children, mostly immigrants, into Midwest families. Vivian’s journey wasn’t entirely happy. She was deposited with the Byrnes, who wanted only child labor in a dressmaking enterprise. Then, as the Great Depression began, Vivian was dumped into the Grote household, where she suffered neglect and abuse. Only after the intervention of a kind teacher did Vivian find a home with a decent, loving family. The story unfolds through chapters set in the present day, with Molly, caught in a minor theft, forced into community service work and agreeing to help Vivian clean an attic. Other chapters flash back to the period from 1929 through World War II. In those decades, Vivian travels West, endures the Byrnes and Grotes, finds a loving home with the Nielsens, reconnects with Dutchy, another orphan-train refugee, marries and is widowed when Dutchy dies in the war. Molly’s life story unfolds in parallel—a neglected half–Native American child, whose father was an accident victim and whose mother drowned in drugs and crime—and Molly slowly opens up to Vivian. Kline does a superb job in connecting goth-girl Molly, emotionally damaged by the "toll [of] years of judgment and criticism," to Vivian, who sees her troubled childhood reflected in angry Molly. The realistic narrative follows characters as they change and grow, making a poignant revelation from Vivian entirely believable, as is Molly’s response to Vivian’s dark secret.

A deeply emotional story drawn from the shadows.


Recent Interviews

Kendare Blake

author of THREE DARK CROWNS

November 16, 2016
THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake Bestseller Kendare Blake’s latest novel, Three Dark Crowns, a dark and inventive fantasy about three sisters who must fight to the death to become queen. In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. The last queen standing gets the crown. “Gorgeous and bloody, tender and violent, elegant, precise, and passionate; above all, completely addicting,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >

Carl Hiaasen

author of RAZOR GIRL

November 7, 2016
RAZOR GIRL by Carl Hiaasen In Razor Girl, Carl Hiaasen’s new novel, when Lane Coolman's car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an ordinary accident is anything but. Behind the wheel of the other car is Merry Mansfield—the eponymous Razor Girl—and the crash scam is only the beginning of events that spiral crazily out of control while unleashing some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There's Trebeaux, the owner of Sedimental Journeys--a company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another…Dominick "Big Noogie" Aeola, a NYC mafia capo with a taste for tropic-wear…Buck Nance, a Wisconsin accordionist who has rebranded himself as the star of a redneck reality show called Bayou Brethren…and Andrew Yancy—formerly Detective Yancy, busted down to the Key West roach patrol after accosting his then-lover's husband with a Dust Buster. Yancy believes that if he can singlehandedly solve a high-profile murder, he'll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to Yancy's future will be as surprising as anything else he encounters along the way—including the giant Gambian rats that are livening up his restaurant inspections. “How can Hiaasen possibly tie together all this monkey business in the end?” our reviewer asks in a starred review. “His delirious plotting is so fine-tuned that preposterous complications that would strain lesser novelists fit right into his antic world. Relax, enjoy, and marvel anew at the power of unbridled fictional invention.” View video >