Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Orphan Train

"Orphan Train" by Christian Baker Kline

This was a one day read it was so good.  It is a novel but speaks of a time in our history where we were shipping orphans by train to the Midwest.  It is not something a lot of people know about, yet it was a reality for over 200,000 orphans.  Many were given a better life, many were mistreated.  The author weaves together two stories, one from modern day-a foster girl just trying to survive, and an old woman remembering her past as an orphan.  I enjoyed how the stories wove together.  It was really well written and interesting to find out about the orphan train.  "The general feeling is that it's best not to talk about the past, that the quickest relief will come in forgetting."  And yet who can ever truly forget their past?  "I feel myself retreating to someplace deep inside.  It is a pitiful kind of childhood, to know that no one loves you or is taking care of you, to always be on the outside looking in.  I feel a decade older than my years.  I know too much; I have seen people at their worst, at their most desperate and selfish, and this knowledge makes me wary.  So I am learning to pretend, to smile and nod, to display empathy I do not feel.  I am learning to pass, to look like everyone else, even though I feel broken inside."  A child who feels so unloved and has learned to give what others are looking for, to not feel but just be agreeable.  "And so your personality is shaped.  You know too much, and this knowledge makes you wary.  You grow fearful and mistrustful.  The expression of emotion does not come naturally, so you learn to fake it.  To pretend.  To display an empathy you don't actually feel.  And so it is that you learn how to pass, if your're lucky, to look like everyone else, even though you're broken inside."  "Why, you're as handy as a pocket in a shirt."  

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