Christina Baker Kline, a novelist, nonfiction writer, and editor, brings a little-known chapter in American history to light in her recent New York Times best-selling novel, Orphan Train (William Morrow). Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from cities on the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by luck or chance. As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning to the east coast later in life, Vivian strikes up an unlikely friendship with Molly Ayer, an eighteen-year-old on the verge of leaving the child welfare system. As the two grow closer, they begin to find answers to mysteries that have haunted both of them their entire lives - answers that will ultimately free them both. A frequent speaker, Kline is an excellent fit for libraries, schools, universities, literary festivals, historical societies, and women's groups.
Kline is the author of four other novels and is the recipient of numerous honors, including a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship, a Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Fordham Faculty Research Grant. Her first novel, Desire Lines (William Morrow), follows the disappearance of a teenage girl in Maine and the delayed investigation that takes place a decade later. Her second book, The Way Life Should Be (William Morrow), follows a 33-year-old woman who thinks she is risking everything by moving from Manhattan to Maine, only to discover love in the most unlikely place. In Bird in Hand (William Morrow), published in 2009, Kline follows four adults, two marriages, one life-long friendship, and the choices that tear everything they have apart.
Kline is co-editor, with Anne Burt, of a collection of personal essays called About Face: Women Write About What They See When They Look in the Mirror. She also commissioned and edited two widely praised collections of original essays on the first year of parenthood and raising young children, Child of Mine and Room to Grow. With her mother, Christina Looper Baker, Kline co-authored The Conversation Begins, a book on feminist mothers and daughters. She is an editor and writing coach for the social networking site SheWrites.com and her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Yale Review, Southern Living, Ms., Parents, and Family Life, among other places.
Born in Cambridge, England, Kline spent her childhood abroad as well as in the American South and Maine. She is a graduate of Yale University, Cambridge University, and the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing. She has taught at Yale University, New York University, and Drew University and currently serves as the Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University. She donates her time and editing skills to a number of organizations in New Jersey and Maine, including Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and JumpStart. She lives in an old house in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, David Kline, and three boys, Hayden, Will, and Eli. She spends summers with extended family in an even older house on Mount Desert Island in Maine.
Praise for Christina Baker Kline:
"Your presentation at our Women's Club Luncheon was beyond superb. Your knowledge of the subject matter kept us enthralled. It is no surprise that your book Orphan Train is a #1 best seller. Thank you for making the day a great success."
-- Four Seasons at Manalapan Women’s Club
"Christina Baker Kline is one of those rare authors who can bring their work to life during a presentation. She is a skilled presenter, keenly aware of the audience and delivering directly to them. With her new book, Orphan Train, Christina has so embraced her research that she effortlessly shares the stories she has gathered. People are on the edge of their seats and pepper her with questions. Christina deftly handles the events, enjoying the exchange of questions and stories, and remains in control, knowing when and how to close and leave people with wanting more."
-- Margot Sage-El, President of North Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, Owner of Watchung Books
"Christina Baker Kline lives, breathes, speaks, and teaches her subjects like few I know. With the heart of a novelist and the head of a researcher, she weaves a tale that entertains as much as it informs. Her professionalism, dynamism, warmth, and down-to-earth sense of humor keep audiences rapt, from beginning to end. She's a master storyteller, a masterful connector, and a magnetic presence. Listening to her once, you can't help but want to hear more."
-- Deborah Siegel PhD, Senior Seminar Leader, The OpEd Project
"Christina Baker Kline is one of those rare writers who is as gifted at talking about her writing as she is at practicing it. Her ability to connect with a wide variety of audiences--from readers to aspiring writers to the most renowned of her peers--is unsurpassed, and something I greatly admire. She is authentic, insightful, and refreshingly practical and direct, with a warmth and charisma that mesmerizes."
-- Kamy Wicoff, Founder, SheWrites.com and She Writes Press
"Christina made our community-wide read an event to remember. Attendees enjoyed hearing about the research that went into her book Orphan Train, and the personal connection she had with the subject matter. She was gracious and professional, and we look forward to reading more of her books."
--Loretta Ellsworth, Chair of OneBook, OneLakeville
Praise for Orphan Train:
"Christina Baker Kline writes exquisitely about two unlikely friends--one, a 91-year-old survivor of the grinding poverty of rural Ireland, immigrant New York and the hardscrabble Midwest; and the other, a casualty of a string of foster homes--each struggling to transcend a past of isolation and hardship. Orphan Train will hold you in its grip as their fascinating tales unfold."
-- Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls
"I was so moved by this book. I loved Molly and Vivian, two brave, difficult, true-hearted women who disrupt one another's lives in beautiful ways, and loved journeying with them, through heartbreak and stretches of history I'd never known existed, out of loneliness toward family and home."
-- Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Belong to Me and Falling Together
"I loved this book: its absorbing back-and-forth story, its vivid history, its eminently loveable characters. Orphan Train wrecked my heart and made me glad to be literate."
-- Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys
"In Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline seamlessly knits together the past and present of two women, one young and one old. Kline reminds us that we never really lose anyone or anything or--perhaps most importantly--ourselves."
-- Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
"Christina Baker Kline's latest wonder, Orphan Train, makes for compulsive reading--this is a story of resilience in the face of tremendous odds and oppressive loneliness. Meticulously researched and yet full of the breath of life, Kline's novel takes us on an historical journey where survival depends upon one's own steely backbone, and the miracle of a large and generous heart."
-- Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life
"Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train is a poignant and memorable story of two steadfast, courageous women---one young, one old---and their discovery of each other's past as unwanted outsiders. It is a revelation of the universal yearning for belonging, for family, for acceptance and, ultimately, the journeys we must all make to find them."
-- Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter and The Traitor's Wife
"In this poignant novel Christina Baker Kline weaves a tapestry of the intertwining lives of two women and affirms our hope that the present can redeem the past and that love has a genuine power to heal. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout's Amy and Isabel, this Orphan Train carries us along until the stories of these two women become one."
-- Mary Morris, author of Revenge
"A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of American history. Beautiful."
-- Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and Swim Back to Me
"This superbly composed novel tells two parallel stories of suffering and perseverance, capturing the heart and mind equally and remaining mesmerizing through the intensely heart-wrenching conclusion."
-- Romantic Times, Top Pick
Praise for Bird in Hand:
-- New York Times Book Review
"Christina Baker Kline is a relentless storyteller. Once she sets her hook and starts reeling you in, struggle becomes counterproductive. The narrative line is too taut, the angler at the other end too skillful."
-- Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and That Old Cape Magic
"A book about love and disappointment and risk and risotto, utterly appealing on every level."
-- Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Still Summer
"In Bird in Hand, Christina Baker Kline looks at marriage, at parents and children, pain and sorrow, and at all the questions that life asks us. This is a wise and lovely book."
-- Roxana Robinson, author of Cost
"Kline's razor-sharp novel about love, marriage and obligation is a beach book only because you could zip through it anywhere."
-- More magazine