Which character or story line did you like least?

Discuss the July 2016 Book of the Month, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

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CatInTheHat
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Which character or story line did you like least?

Post by CatInTheHat »

I found Dina very hard to like. I really did not understand why she was a foster parent, as she did not seem to like kids. I felt so sorry for her husband. At minimum, she did not like Molly. Molly needed to be liked and cared for, which is probably why Vivian was so drawn to her.
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Post by e-tasana-williams »

The Grotes were my least favorite characters. No surprise here. The author wrote them so well it was the easiest thing in the world to dislike both of them. On the one hand it is clear Mr. and Mrs. Grote were victims of grinding poverty. On the other hand, neither of them displayed a shred of integrity. I have found that many of the poorest people I've encountered have had more integrity and better character than these two. I'm not talking about the proverbial noble savage, just good people who have found themselves in very bad situations. Mr. and Mrs. Grote were different. They didn't look after themselves or any of the children they kept bringing into the world, and they had no business having another child added to the mix. The organization responsible for the placement of orphans had no business leaving a helpless child with them either.
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Post by bookowlie »

Eatleaves, I agree. I liked the Grotes the least and I found it hard to read that section of the story. As for Dina in the present day story, I didn't like her either. Still, I found her a necessary plot device to compare Molly and Vivian in the way they were unloved. With Vivian's story, the Grotes could have been left out of the plot and there would still be sufficient evidence of Vivian's poor treatment through the first family (forgot their name!). I used to remember them as the family that made her use the outhouse.
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Post by gali »

I agree with bookowlie and Eatleaves.

I also didn't like the Grotes and Dina. Dina's husband irritated me also for not standing up to his wife.
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Post by klbradley »

Reading about the Grotes made my stomach knot. Hearing about the way those poor children lived was devastated. The husband didn't work, and wasn't always able to bring food home if he didn't find something while hunting. The mother (if you could even call her that) wouldn't get out of bed to care for her starving, sickly children. The other children in the home were filty and starved, not taken care of by anyone. This is a prime example of a family living in desperate poverty. Reading about the way that family lived was horrible enough, but then hearing what type of people Mr. and Mrs. Grote were was even worse. Mrs. Grote would not get out of bed, take care of her children, feed them, or even clean them or herself. Mr. Grote was worse, obviously for the sexual abuse instance.
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Post by CatInTheHat »

I had actually forgotten about the Grotes when I first pondered this question. As much as I did not like Dina, the Grotes were far less likeable. It is beyond crazy that anyone would have left an orphan with them. If anything, their children should have been taken away for neglect.
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Post by klbradley »

CatInTheHat wrote:I had actually forgotten about the Grotes when I first pondered this question. As much as I did not like Dina, the Grotes were far less likeable. It is beyond crazy that anyone would have left an orphan with them. If anything, their children should have been taken away for neglect.
It's sad when you are considering which of the two is the lesser evil, but I do agree with you. Dina was not a pleasant foster mom, but the Grotes were much worse.
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Post by MsMartha »

I have to agree with other readers who didn't like the Grotes. Apparently there wasn't too much done by the Children's Aid Society to determine if a family would be a good one to help an orphan, and it also seems obvious that the Grotes could have used some help, too.
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Post by klbradley »

MsMartha wrote:I have to agree with other readers who didn't like the Grotes. Apparently there wasn't too much done by the Children's Aid Society to determine if a family would be a good one to help an orphan, and it also seems obvious that the Grotes could have used some help, too.
From what I have heard, if you are looking in to being a foster parent in current time, you have to prove that you are fit enough to care for the children in the home. Obviously if this was done back in the time of the Orphan Trains, the Grotes would have received some sort of help, but also would not have been allowed to take in another child when they couldn't even feed their own.
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Post by CatInTheHat »

MsMartha wrote:I have to agree with other readers who didn't like the Grotes. Apparently there wasn't too much done by the Children's Aid Society to determine if a family would be a good one to help an orphan, and it also seems obvious that the Grotes could have used some help, too.
This makes me really think about how the foster care system has changed during the 80ish years since the orphan trains occurred.
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Post by Taylor Razzani »

I have to agree with everyone, thr Grotes were terrible and I found it hard to have any sympathy for them. The mom seemed lazy and obviously the dad was no good. Hopefully the church mentioning them got the kids some food and other things they desperately need.
I didn't like Dina either, she was a little like Mrs. Grote in how she seemed to not even attempt to get along with her foster child and they were both very self centered. I don't know how Ralph could live with that.

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Post by TangledinText »

The Grotes were so easy to dislike they stuck out as the main villian between the stories.
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Post by CatInTheHat »

Taylor Razzani wrote:I have to agree with everyone, thr Grotes were terrible and I found it hard to have any sympathy for them. The mom seemed lazy and obviously the dad was no good. Hopefully the church mentioning them got the kids some food and other things they desperately need.
I didn't like Dina either, she was a little like Mrs. Grote in how she seemed to not even attempt to get along with her foster child and they were both very self centered. I don't know how Ralph could live with that.
If there were a sequel, I think we might find that Ralph and Dina didn't make it as a couple.
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Post by braver »

The Grotes were obviously terrible, but in terms of characters, Dina was my least favorite because she felt most unbelievable.
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Post by Taylor Razzani »

CatInTheHat wrote:
Taylor Razzani wrote:I have to agree with everyone, thr Grotes were terrible and I found it hard to have any sympathy for them. The mom seemed lazy and obviously the dad was no good. Hopefully the church mentioning them got the kids some food and other things they desperately need.
I didn't like Dina either, she was a little like Mrs. Grote in how she seemed to not even attempt to get along with her foster child and they were both very self centered. I don't know how Ralph could live with that.
If there were a sequel, I think we might find that Ralph and Dina didn't make it as a couple.
I agree, I was surprised they made it as far as they did! Unless Molly brought out the ugly side of Dina, but I highly doubt that. So in a way I also agree that Dina was unbelievable to some extent since she was so mean for no reason most of the time.

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