Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Reviewed by Kim Boulden, 26, Abu Dhabi Golf Club instructor
I really enjoyed this book, and once I’d started reading, I struggled to put it down. The novel explores the subjects of love, adversity, resilience, providence, the workings of the child welfare system, hidden secrets and how the choices we make can resonate through generations. I had never heard of ‘orphan trains’ before. They were the means of transport used for the relocation of orphans from crowded cities to foster homes. I was struck by the parallels explored between an experience nearly a hundred years ago and the foster care system today.
I liked how the story moved back and forth between the past and present as we are navigated through the painful struggles and experiences of a young girl and an old woman who were both abandoned as children.
It was an easy read and each chapter was short, which made me want to carry on reading. The book deals with a few rough topics, but I think that’s the best way to learn about history. All in all it’s a great book.
Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
Reviewed by Hina Latif, 24, Online Editorial Assistant
The Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a poignant and engrossing tale of family history set against the backdrop of revolution.
Omid, Sarah and Forugh go to live with their grandparents when their own parents are put behind bars. Aghajaan, Maman Zinat and Khaleh Leila raised them with love and care until their parents, upon being released from prison, flee with them.
The best aspect of the novel is its prose, which engages you with its simplicity and brings the characters to life. The beauty of its words veils the crude violence depicted at times and replaces it with the delicate emotions and feelings of the characters.
It has been said that tragedy should be utilised as a source of strength,which is precisely what the strong-willed characters in Delijani’s powerful debut novel do as they let go of their past and find hope, love and new destinies. This book is absolutely amazing and should not be missed.
Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda
Reviewed by Sadaf Khan, 28, Communications Manager
The story begins when Val and June, two teenage girls who are bored and sick of the hot and humid summer, decide to take a rubber dinghy out in the local bay in Red Hook, Brooklyn, late one night for what they expect will be an adventure. But the mystery begins when Val’s body washes up on the shore. June, however, is nowhere to be found.
Ivy Pochoda paints an overwhelmingly elaborate picture of how the residents of the community deal with their feelings of anxiety, loss and grief, as well as teenage angst.
Visitation Street has an eerie and intriguing plot and will submerge you deep within the mysteries and emotions that engulf the rather bleak community of Red Hook.
This book has been dubbed “a powerfully beautiful novel”, by the New York Times Book Review. If you enjoy this novel as much as I did, you should also pick up author Ivy Pochoda’s other book, The Art of Disappearing.
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