Historical Fiction Books


Orphan Train

Orphan Train a novel
Christina Baker Kline

Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?



Mail-Order Kid
Marilyn June Coffey

The massive Orphan Train exodus whisked three-year-old Teresa from the safety of her New York orphanage, where the worst thing the Foundling nuns did was wash her curly black hair, to Mail_Order_Kid_Cover-197x300a desolate house and cold-hearted “parents” in Kansas.  There she entered a small and strange Volga German world whose inhabitants spoke a language she had never heard.  In this odd world, she encountered whippings and sexual abuse.

Perhaps half a million children, like Teresa, were plucked from orphanages and shipped by rail (or “relocated”) to nearly every state in the Union from 1854 to 1929.

Mail-Order Kid looks at the orphan train movement through the eyes of one small child who yearns to know her “real” mother, survives a tortured childhood, and ultimately, as an adult, comes to terms with her past, her faith, and herself.


Riders on the Orphan TrainBookCover
Alison Moore

Riders on the Orphan Train is a novel about a little known piece of American history.  Between 1854 and 1929, over 250,000 orphans and “surrendered” children were “placed out” across the country.  They started their journey in New York and were given away in train stations in every state in the continental United States.

This is the story of two children from very different backgrounds, Ezra Duval and Elizabeth Farrell; who find themselves on the same train heading West in 1918.  Their odyssey is a story of dislocation, loss, and the search for home that is at the heart of the American experience.

The ChaperoneThe Chaperone
Laura Moriarty

Inspired by the life of silent-film star Louise Brooks, the story of two women who could not be more different, and the summer that changed them both.

In 1922, only a few years before she will become a famous film actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita for a summer in New York City and the avant-garde Denishawn school of dance.  Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone.  Cora Carlisle is neither mother nor friend, just a respectable neighbor whom Louise’s parents have hired for propriety’s sake.  But upstanding, traditional Cora has her own private reason for making the trip.

Of course, Cora has no idea what she’s in for: young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob, is known for her arrogance, her disregard for convention, and her keen intelligence.  By the time their train pulls into Grand Central, Cora fears that supervising Louise will be at best exhausting and, at worst, impossible.  Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will be the most important of her life.

For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission.  And while what she discovers isn’t what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined.  Over the course of the summer, Cora’s eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

My Heart Remembers
Kim Vogel Sawyer

United by blood, divided by time, will three orphan-train siblings ever find oMy Heart Remembersne another again? Orphaned in a tenement fire, three Irish-immigrant children are sent to Missouri to be adopted. Despite eight-year-old Maelle’s desperate attempts to keep her siblings together, each child is taken by a different family. Yet Maelle vows that she will never stop searching for her brother and sister – and that they will be together one day in the future. Seventeen years later, Maell is still searching. But the years have washed away her hope…and her memories. What are Mattie and Molly doing now? Will she ever see her brother and sister again?