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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Orphan Train" by Christina Baker Kline

  1. Identity and Belonging:

    • How do Vivian and Molly grapple with questions of identity and belonging throughout the novel? What factors shape their sense of self and their place in the world?
    • Discuss the significance of names in the novel, particularly Vivian's changing identities as a result of her experiences as an orphan. How do names reflect characters' identities and relationships?
  2. The Orphan Train Movement:

    • Explore the historical context of the Orphan Train movement in the United States. How does the novel shed light on this little-known chapter of American history?
    • Discuss the impact of the Orphan Train on the lives of children like Vivian. How does the experience of being sent on the Orphan Train shape Vivian's identity and relationships as an adult?
  3. Trauma and Resilience:

    • Examine the theme of trauma and resilience in the novel. How do Vivian and Molly cope with the traumas they have experienced in their lives? How do their experiences of loss and displacement shape their resilience?
    • Discuss the role of empathy and understanding in helping characters like Vivian and Molly heal from their past traumas. How do their relationships with others contribute to their healing processes?
  4. Interconnected Lives:

    • Analyze the ways in which Vivian's and Molly's lives intersect and parallel each other throughout the novel. How do their shared experiences of loss and displacement create a bond between them?
    • Discuss the significance of the friendship that develops between Vivian and Molly. How does their relationship impact each other's lives and help them find healing and connection?
  5. Family and Community:

    • Explore the themes of family and community in the novel. How do Vivian and Molly redefine the concepts of family and belonging through their relationships with each other and with other characters?
    • Discuss the importance of chosen family versus biological family in the novel. How do characters like Vivian and Molly create their own sense of family and community in the face of loss and displacement?
  6. Legacy and Memory:

    • Reflect on the theme of legacy and memory in the novel. How do Vivian's experiences as an orphan shape her understanding of her own past and her place in the world? How does she come to terms with her own legacy?
    • Discuss the importance of preserving and sharing personal stories, such as Vivian's, as a means of honoring individual experiences and collective history.
  7. The Ending:

    • Reflect on the ending of the novel and the resolution of Vivian's and Molly's stories. How do they find closure and redemption in their respective journeys? What does the ending suggest about the power of connection and understanding in overcoming past traumas?

Christina Baker Kline is an American author known for her bestselling novels that explore themes of family, identity, and resilience. Here's a brief biography of Christina Baker Kline:

Early Life and Education: Christina Baker Kline was born on October 8, 1964, in Cambridge, England, but spent most of her childhood in the United States. She grew up in Maine and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Yale University. She later earned a Master of Arts degree in literature from Cambridge University in England.

Career: Christina Baker Kline began her career as a writer, editor, and educator. She has taught literature and creative writing at several universities, including Yale, New York University, and Fordham University. In addition to her work in academia, Kline has also worked as a freelance writer and editor for various publications.

Kline's literary career took off with the publication of her debut novel, "Sweet Water," in 1993. Since then, she has authored numerous novels, essays, and short stories that have been widely praised for their emotional depth, compelling characters, and evocative storytelling.

One of Kline's most notable works is "Orphan Train," published in 2013. The novel tells the story of two women, Vivian and Molly, whose lives intersect through the historical "Orphan Train" movement in the United States. "Orphan Train" became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into over 35 languages.

Kline's other novels include "Bird in Hand" (2009), "The Way Life Should Be" (2007), "Desire Lines" (1998), and "A Piece of the World" (2017), which fictionalizes the life of Christina Olson, the subject of Andrew Wyeth's iconic painting "Christina's World."

In addition to her novels, Kline has written essays and articles for publications such as The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Psychology Today. She is known for her insightful commentary on literature, writing, and the creative process.

Personal Life: Christina Baker Kline currently resides in Montclair, New Jersey, with her family. She continues to write and is actively involved in promoting literacy and the arts. Kline is also a passionate advocate for historical preservation and has served on the board of the Museums of Old York in Maine.

Legacy and Recognition: Christina Baker Kline's novels have received widespread critical acclaim and have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. Her work is celebrated for its emotional resonance, vivid imagery, and powerful storytelling. Kline's novels have touched the hearts of readers around the world and have cemented her reputation as a talented and versatile author in contemporary literature.


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