Summer Reading Book Club

Orphan Train 

Thanks for joining us as we start the our final book of the Summer Reading Book Club, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. 

This is the book I've most been looking forward to reading this summer, so I'm ready to jump in with both feet! Orphan Train tells the intertwined stories of two orphans born nearly a century apart. Molly is a teenager working with 90-year-old Vivian as community service. Together they explore Vivian's past and learn what connects them. 

If you’re still reading either of the two previous books, I Am Malala or Me Before You, don’t worry, the discussion isn’t over. Keep using the hashtag #PHSummerReads on social media or check out our discussion questions post to keep up the conversation.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be adding new questions to this post each Wednesday, so check back in to get involved in the conversation. As always, the goal behind these questions is to spark conversation, not limit it, so if you have other thoughts and ideas, post away!

Discussion Questions

Week 1

  1. The prologue opens with the statement "I believe in ghosts." What's the significance of this prologue? Who are the ghosts that haunt Vivian? Are they literal ghosts or metaphorical?
  2. Those characters providing homes for the orphans always seem to feel that they are owed something by those they take in, but rarely feel an obligation to those they care for. What do they owe the orphans?
  3. Vivian has hoarded a collection of physical items in her attic and seems unable to get rid of anything. What's the significance of these objects? Why is it so hard for her to get rid of anything? What objects are significant to Molly?

Week 2

  1. Vivian moves from family to family and each family is different in some ways while being similar in others. How are all of the families she lives with similar? How are they similar to Molly's foster family?
  2. The book focuses on the parallels between Vivian and Molly's stories, but doesn't reveal their reactions to each others stories directly. How do we know how they are affected by each other's stories?
  3. What is similar between Molly and Vivian's reactions to their shared background? How are their reactions different?

Week 3

  1. Despite not seeing Dutchy for most of her life, she feels an instant connection with him and is able to open up with him because of their shared background. Can that type of shared experience make a deep connection with others? Have you ever had that type of connection with someone else?
  2. Molly wears religious symbols from her Native American background and Vivian wears an Irish Claddagh cross. What do these symbols mean to each of them? How are they important?
  3. Molly works to encourage Vivian to meet with her daughter, but doesn't make the effort to reach out to her monther. Why? Do you think she will when she's older?