The book then flashes back to 1926, and tells of a family who recently came to America with nothing. The family is squished into a tiny apartment, where the people are not as friendly as those home in Ireland. Two years after everyone is settled into America and surviving off of the little that they make, a fire strikes their apartment and everyone but Niamh is killed. At eight years old, this young girl is now an orphan and sent to an orphanage. There, she learns that her ethnic looks make her undesirable, and she will be sent west on an “orphan train” with twenty other children from the orphanage. Several stops at different towns, the kids will be given to families who agree to give the children a place to stay, food to eat, and continue their educations. Though many of the kids know that this will most decidedly not be the case, there is nothing worse than being left on their own.
On the train, Niamh is handed Carmine to take care of. Having had a younger sister that she helped take care of, the baby quickly takes to Niamh. When a boy named Dutchy keeps getting in trouble, he is also sent to sit near Niamh in hopes that she would be a good...
... middle of paper ...
...y hints of Vivian’s daughter. Sarah, Vivian’s daughter, lives only a few states away and has a husband and daughter of her own. They both decide to meet each other, and the story ends with Sarah getting out of her car with her own daughter, Becca.
The book begins fairly slowly, but begins to pick up speed within the first few chapters. The portrayal of life in the era of the Depression is astonishing, due to the fact that there are so many different lifestyles shown throughout Vivian’s life. She goes from the life of an immigrant, to the life of a worker, to the life of an unwanted helper, to the life of a loved child. Those reading the story begin to feel the highs and lows of both of the main characters lives, even if their stories are technically decades apart. Though the turmoil and joy, the novel creates a vivid picture of how life had been in the 1930’s.
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