January 20, 2017

Caught in the Act

Francis Mary, Megan, Mike, Danny, Peg, and little Petey. These were the Kelly children, sent west on the orphan train in hopes of finding a better life. Though each child's individual story is as exciting and page turning as the next, this, the story before you, is perhaps the one that contains the most mystery and excitement, if not danger. In this, the second book in the "Orphan Train" series by Joan Lowery Nixon, we follow young Mike Kelly after his trip west as he beings to create a new life for himself. But, though he tries his best, his life does not go the way he planned.

From the very first time Mike laid eyes on the Friedrichs, he knew he didn't want to be adopted by them: the way Mr. Friedrich scowled at him, the way Mrs. Friedrich hung behind her husband whimpering at the slightest word from him, and Gunther, the paunchy, smirking boy who must have been the Friedrichs' son. They all just looked mean and Mike didn't like them. But when Mike was picked by the Friedrichs, he was determined to make the best of his situation even if it meant following Mr. Friedrich's strict rules and cow-towing to Gunther. Mike was determined to make this opportunity work; that's what Ma would want him to do. But when Mr. Friedrich starts to become more and more abusive, when Gunther's smirk begins to look more evil then usual, and when his new friend, Ruben, goes missing, Mike begins to suspect and fear the worst. Is it all his imagination or is he truly in as much danger as he imagines?

This was an excellent book, adding onto the lost Old West that Joan Lowery Nixon portrayed in the last book. We now see a similar world of ranches, horses, and trains, but from a slightly different angle. Nixon has done an outstanding job of pulling the characters right off the page to a point where you care, feel, and hurt for these people. This is a book that is worthy of an age limit; I recommend that eight and up read this book. It's very historically accurate, but also contains a few chapters describing child abuse. Be cautious when letting your child read this, but all together an excellent book that children and adults can both enjoy, another notch on Nixon's gun.


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