Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Orphan Train

Plot Summary Part 3

When he heard what happened he advises Dorothy to go back to the Grote's and give it another try. Dorothy's school teacher Mrs. Larsen says that's crazy talk. She temporarily takes Dorothy in but eventually finds her a home with the Neilsen family. The Neilsens don't love her but want someone to work in their store. However their home is like paradise because Dorothy doesn't have to eat squirrels or sew anything or have fingers put into her v_gina. However the situation gets more than a little creepy when the Neilsens say they want to change Dorothy's name to Vivian, the name of their dead daughter. So Dorothy who was Niamh becomes Vivian. So now when I say Vivian I mean Dorothy when I used to mean Niamh. Are you thoroughly confused yet?

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Again, Vivian/Dorothy/Niamh doesn't love the Nielsens and they don't love her but she has a relatively easy job working at their store.

Vivian learns that Mrs. Byrne went crazy and went walking around in a snowstorm and died. Vivian claims this news doesn't make her happy but of course we know that it did.

As she gets older, Vivian is afraid to let any boy bone her for fear that the Nielsens will kick her out. They not only change her name but her religion as well, forcing her to go to Lutheran services. I guess Vivian must have been glad they couldn't have changed her gender or else they might have turned her into a boy as well.

Back in the present, Molly gets kicked out by Dina, who is looking for any excuse to get rid of her. So she moves in with the 91 year old Vivian, who lives in a mansion. We are supposed to think that the two are bonding with each other but quite honestly I don't  see any evidence of it. This author's literary technique is to say things are happening: "Molly is bonding with Vivian", but never to show it happening. This is a very lazy and inexperienced form of writing.

Molly does some digging and finds out that Vivian's sister Maisie actually didn't die in the fire but lived a long life... and then died. I don't know the point of Vivian finding this out now since she cannot reunite with her sister.

Back in the 1930's, Vivian reunites with Dutchy. She's in love with him even though she only knew him for a day or two on a train when she was 9 years old.  He immediately bones her and they get married. Dutchy tells Vivian how he was mistreated on the farm he was sent to. He had to live in the barn and was beaten like a slave. He got a tapeworm and had to run away. Later, he was traded to another family for a pig. Heh heh heh.

I never mentioned but Vivian has a special necklace she talks about nonstop during the book. It's her only reminder of her dead family. She gives part of her special necklace to Dutchy right before he goes off to fight in WW II, to keep him safe. It is at that very moment that I become 100% certain that Dutchy is about to die.

I am right. He dies. But before he died he squirted a baby into Vivian. Dutchy was very creepy about it, saying, "The thought of my child growing inside you will keep me going." He sounds like the monster from the Aliens movie which impregnates people with aliens who hatch from their bellies.

Anyway, when the baby is born, Vivian puts the baby up for adoption. This makes zero sense. Having been an abused orphan, why would Vivian do the same thing to her child? We are supposed to think she is so upset about losing Dutchy, but one has nothing to do with the other.

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