By David Steinberg

Entry 1. Last Friday, Feb. 26, I attended my first meeting of a book club. Over several decades I’d written about clubs as the book editor of the Albuquerque Journal but I had never participated in one. 

My first meeting was also the first meeting of the club. It’s a neighborhood thing. The suggestion to form the club came in an email from Sylvia, who lives across the street with her husband, Arthur.  Two other neighbors, Artemis and Bob, also attended the meeting. The meeting was held at Sylvia and Arthur’s home.

All the people on our block, actually those living on both sides of the street of our block, were invited to participate. Maybe others will join for future sessions.

I found the first meeting friendly, informative and intellectually stimulating. And it was nice to getting to better know my neighbors. The agreed-upon book that was the subject of the meeting was the novel “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline.

The story follows the lives of two women – the 91-year Vivian and her past life as an orphan who loses her Irish immigrant family in a fire in 1929 New York City tenement and finds herself on a train headed to a new life in rural Minnesota. The other woman is a teenager, Molly, who is in the present time but who has lived in foster homes. Molly and Vivian form a bond. Their lives have been filled with pain. But they are survivors and the reader is privileged to journey with them.

Though a novel, the story is based on the author’s research in a little known aspect of American history – the orphan train. Between 1854 and 1929, these trains took hundreds of thousands of children to new lives, some into the pits of indentured servitude.

The book was published in 2012.

Thank you, Sylvia, for organizing the book club. And thank you, Sylvia and Arthur, for graciously hosting the meeting.