I believe in ghosts. They’re the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened.
I am ninety-one years old, and almost everyone who was once in my life is now a ghost.
Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth. My gram, with her kind eyes and talcum-dusted skin. My da, sober, laughing. My mam, singing a tune. The bitterness and alcohol and depression are stripped away from the phantom incarnations, and they console and protect me in death as they never did in life.
…Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear. The first twenty-three years of my life are the ones that shaped me, and the fact that I’ve lived almost seven decades since then is irrelevant. Those years have nothing to do with the questions you ask.
-Christina Baker Kline, Orphan Train
* This book has passed from the hands of my aunt, to my mother and now on to me. It is an incredible story; at times heartbreaking. I began reading slower and slower as I edged closer to the end. Because as much as I wanted to know what happened, I didn’t feel ready to leave this world behind. I have cried for these characters, rejoiced with them and for them when they found snatches of happiness, ached for them when life treated them so very cruelly and felt that I had the privilege of entering their world and taking this journey of loss, love and self-discovery alongside them. Although the characters are a work of fiction, the story is based on a truth. During 1854 and 1929 close to 200,000 children were transported from the East Coast of the United States to the Midwest for adoption; which for many, simply translated into indentured servitude. This is an extraordinary story and a part of American History that I never knew existed. My Nana always says, “they’re re-writing history; they’re leaving things out!” The real stories of these children should not be forgotten, nor should this part of history. It is not a story that I will soon forget, this is a book that’s gonna stay with me for a long time to come.