BAR HARBOR — Author Christina Baker-Kline, who summers in Tremont and has deep year-round family ties on MDI, will be at the Jesup Memorial Library on Thursday, Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. with her acclaimed new novel, “Orphan Train.”
The book blends contemporary and historical storylines as Molly Ayer, a 17-year-old Penobscot indian, finds a kindred spirit while helping 91-year-old Vivian, a veteran of the orphan trains that took nearly 200,000 immigrant children from East Coast cities and dispersed them to the Midwest in the later 1880s and early 1900s. But who is helping who? Molly faces challenges of her own and Vivian may just be the person to help her. The power of this unlikely friendship allows both to confront, and come to grips with, the ghosts of their pasts.
The key to creating a narrative to tell this story came from the author’s mother, the late Tina Baker, through her work with the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. That group has been working to heal the wounds from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian Adoption project that removed hundreds of native children from their homes to be adopted by non-native families.
“I stumbled onto the story of the Orphan Train a decade ago,” Ms. Baker-Kline told the Islander earlier this year. “I didn’t want to just write a historical novel per se, I wanted to find a way to tie it into Maine.” Even as she was working on earlier novels, including “The Way Life Should Be,” the poignancy of the plight of those children uprooted on the orphan train tugged at her heartstrings. “It was always percolating, always in the back of my mind,” she said.
The novel has received phenomenal response, garnering critical praise and popular support. It made the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.
Ms. Baker-Kline will read from and talk about “Orphan Train” at the Jesup, and a reception and book signing will follow. This event is co-sponsored by Sherman’s Books, and copies of the novel will be available for purchase at the library that night, with part of the proceeds going to the Jesup.
For more information, call Melinda Rice, Director of Marketing & Communications, at the Jesup at 207-288-4245 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.