How much did you know about orphan trains before reading this novel? What touched you most
about Violet’s story? Did reading Mercy Train make you want to learn more?
Join Date: 10/11/10
Join Date: 06/04/12
I had not heard of mercy trains and found it interesting how a priest and a nun were behind the original movement. It always amazes me how during certain periods of our history children were taken from their families for whatever reason without laws in place to protect them. So different from today's standards!
Join Date: 02/16/12
Join Date: 08/16/11
I did not know about orphan trains before reading the book, but I read a bit about them afterwards. I think it's one of those examples of well-meaning individuals coming up with a "solution" to a huge problem (thousands of homeless children living on the streets of NYC) without considering all the potential ramifications. There's no doubt that some children were much better off with their new families, whereas others were exploited and abused. I was also fascinated to learn that the orphan trains are considered to be the forerunner of the US foster care program.
Join Date: 06/13/11
Violet wanted so much for her Mother to "be a Mother" and take care of her. However, she did learn to take care of herself. I have heard of Orphan Trains before and read more about them since reading the book.
Join Date: 05/12/11
Like any little girl, Violet did not want to leave the only mother she knew nor her friends. It wasn't a good life but it was the only life she knew. No, I knew nothing about the orphan trains. It is sad that the church stepped to supposedly solve the problem of the children on the streets but instead basically sold many of the children into servitude. I'm not sure I want to know more about the orphans trains. It would probably just make me angry about what was done to the children.
Join Date: 01/12/12
I'd never heard of mercy trains before reading this book, either. It's horrible for kids to face living in the streets but I have mixed feelings about sending them away, too. Hard to know what's the better option. Neither is ideal.
Join Date: 06/16/11
I was familiar with the orphan trains from discussions with my parents. They were acquainted with a few children who had come to their area of rural Iowa on those trains. At the time I heard about it these children were all adults with families of their own and I as I remember it my parents gave me the impression that they had basically been adopted into the families and were treated well. So I am sure that there were some very good stories but can well believe that it wasn't that way for all of those children.
Join Date: 05/19/11
I only had a passing knowledge of orphan trains...never heard them called mercy trains...I think they were probably well meaning, but many times what we think will be a better situation leaves out some crucial parts that aren't addressed...like "I still will miss my mother", or the cruel new master....
Join Date: 06/13/11
I had heard of the orphan trains, but did not know the details.
I was impressed by the strength of Violet. It had to be so scary for her to leave everything behind. Most children would keep repeating the cycle with their mother; hoping the next time her mother would get her life together and find a way for them to live together. Joycew
Join Date: 04/12/12
I had heard of Orphan trains and I had used some testimonials of people who actually were "orphans" with my Middle school students and there were some people in my town that actually came here on orphan trains and our Library did some newspaper articles about them. I guess what surprised me the most when I learned about them was that many of the children were like Violet and actually had parents. Something I learned was that there were some records found in an old office that did give some of the children information about their pasts. Wasn't it amazing that the group was allowed to even do that. In many cases it turned out well for the children, but even those children had questions and suffered from not knowing their pasts. I thought Violet's story was the most interesting of the three.
Join Date: 05/19/11
Join Date: 08/04/11
Violet's story held such sadness. It seemed to pass from mother to daughter as you read how they lived out their lives. Violet was a very strong person, even when she was a child. I wasn't aware of the orphan trains; I had never read anything about them. While I was reading the book I would chat with friends and family about the book and not one person had ever heard of the train that brought these children so far away from home. I think this book will open our eyes about something that happened and never made it intto a history book, even though it involved so many children.
Join Date: 09/22/11
I had never heard of the "Mercy Trains" Violet seemed like a child that became street smart quickly. The fact that this is a secret in both our history and the children's lives. I can't imagine the implied forgetting the past 11 years, feeling ashamed of who you were & where you came from.
Join Date: 05/10/12
I knew about orphan trains as some stopped in Arkansas and an orphanage of sorts was provided for those who were not selected. That continues to be a part of the area's history. What I did not know was the numbers of children involved and exactly who those orphans were. I thought they were all orphans. I also had never heard them referred to as "mercy" trains although I understand how the term came to be used. How very sad that well-meaning souls at times "kidnapped" children for good.
Join Date: 07/28/11
I didn't know about orphan trains before reading this book. I felt so badly for Violet, and I can sympathize with why she made the decision she did. I have been involved with organizations that help prevent girls from entering the sex trade, so I was relieved for the character that she didn't end up with that fate; though of course was sad that she didn't end up with the traditional family that she longed for. I would be interested in learning more about orphan trains.
Join Date: 02/29/12
Join Date: 04/15/11
I was slightly aware of the orphan "mercy trains" but this book really brought the whole concept to life. I guess my initial impression was that the children on the trains were, in fact, orphans and not children who were being given up. Such a sad situation.
Join Date: 05/10/12
I had read about the orphan trains before.
What touched me most about Violet's situation and that of the other children was the rejection they encountered along the way at the "stops" when they were not chosen. What a blow to be in such a situation and then face rejection after rejection!
Join Date: 08/04/11
I was touched by Violet's level of maturity. She made a life-altering decision on her own. She decide to leave her mother at a young age. I was also touched by her bravery; to pick up and go without regret. she had some mixed feelings once she was on the train, but she saw it through to the ending of her being placed in a hospital to work in the kitchen. She couldn't believe how lucky she was to have her own room with a window that looked out on a pond.
Join Date: 05/12/11
Join Date: 07/17/11
I had never heard of Mercy/Orphan trains before. Though Violets mother had an addiction problem, it is very sad to think that other parents had to put children on the train just because they couldnt take care of them.
Join Date: 05/16/11
Yes I did read about them in other novels, but I never knew that they disguised the where abouts of the children to such an extent that their parents or parent or even a relative could never find them again. I suppose that was done for the protection of the children but I think they should have taken it on a case to cases basis. So many parents were having difficulties during that time period and I think if there situations had changed they should have a least been able to be told that their children were all right.
Join Date: 06/20/12
I loved her never give up attitude, her tenacity and her ability to form a new life from the old one. And in my opinion without the Hospital and the motherly nurse and fatherly doctor what kind of life would she have had in NYC.
Join Date: 04/14/11
Violet was a very strong character and very mature. She knew that she had no life in NYC and made the best decision she could.
I knew a little bit about orphan trains but did not know how many children were sent to the West -- I was amazed when I read how many there were. Even though I knew little about the trains, this novel made it more real.
Join Date: 01/05/12
The early twentieth century was a very difficult time in the world with lots of poverty and hunger and New York was no exception, Violet who was only 11 years old had to develop her survival instincts quickly. I had never heard of the mercy trains and the relocation of thousands of children to the West.
Join Date: 06/21/12
I had never heard of the orphan trains before this story, very interesting part of America's history! I was very sad for Violet in regards to her mother and the fact that she just couldn't get herself together for her daughter's sake. I think because Violet did leave at an earlier age she didn't seem to have the hatred she might of had for her mother if she had stuck around into her teen years, this could have turned into a whole different story then! Violet seemed to feel sorry for her mom more than anything else and I think that came with Violet's age she still felt unconditional love for her mother and was too young and innocent to know any different.
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