7 Historical Fiction Books like Orphan Train

Listen to this article

Good historical fiction is truly the best kind of read for you if you love being illuminated by a significant part of human history. But it is not so easy for anyone to find similar books that match the genre and story. So you are here.

I researched and found 7 Historical fiction books that match the storyline of Orphan Train. I also include an Amazon link for each book to make it easy for you to add one to your collection.

Get 30 Days Free Trial of Audible to try out an audiobook or try out Kindle Unlimited to Download Unlimited Books.

The Orphan Train Summary

The #1 international bestseller of 2013, Orphan Train, was published in 40 countries and was critically acclaimed for its heartwarming historical presentation. The story begins with ‘Molly Ayer’, a troubled teenager who is in her 12th foster home now. Molly being a Goth recluse, has difficulty connecting with her new foster family. After getting caught for stealing a book, Molly is again abandoned and pushed to community service.

She ends up cleaning the attic of Victorian mansion owned by an elderly Vivian Dally on the Maine seashore. Each as unlikely as the other, Molly and Vivian form an unexpected friendship, and the two protagonists are presented in a parallel story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker

The unique fact about Orphan Train book is that it will insert you in a lesser-known phase of American history. The plot sets in motion in The Great Depression of the 1920s when several orphaned children were taken to the Midwest from overpopulated Eastern cities by the so-called “Orphan Train”.

The orphans traveled to the rural areas to work for families who wanted them. Vivian Dally was one of those orphan children who struggled her way through life, pushed from home to home, and encountered tragedies of painful pieces of history. Her story unfolds bit by bit and ends in a shocking revelation. Get the book, Orphan Train and be a part of a heart-wrenching part of history and a heart-warming journey of friendship.

7 Adolescent Historical Fiction Books Like Orphan Train

Here, I put the list of 7 heartwarming historical fiction books that you may find quite similar to Orphan Train

Book NameAuthor/Authors NameGenre
Before We Were YoursLisa WingateHistorical Fiction,
Domestic Fiction
The NightingaleKristin HannahHistorical Fiction,
The Light between OceansM.L. StedmanDomestic Fiction,
Historical Fiction
All the Light We Cannot SeeAnthony DoerrHistorical Fiction
The Kitchen HouseKathleen GrissomHistorical Fiction
Lilac GirlsMartha Hall KellyHistorical Fiction
The Invention of WingsSue Monk KiddHistorical Fiction, Biographical Fiction

1. Before We Were Yours, By Lisa Wingate

‘Before We Were Yours’ by Lisa Wingate resembles Orphan Train in quite a few aspects. This is one of the books about orphanages that unfolds the notorious history of a scandalous Memphis-based adoption organization where the director kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families. 

Before we were yours, the true story begins in 1939 when the Foss family’s children were dragged to Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage by strangers when their parents left them home alone. Rill, the eldest of the five siblings, strives to protect her siblings from the orphanage’s director’s cruelty. 

The parallelism of ‘Orphan Train’ is also seen when wealthy Avery in the present-day discovers her family secrets that reconnect her with the scandals of the past. The shocking expose of the fiction’s adoption system, Before We Were Yours, is based on a true story.

2. The Nightingale, By Kristin Hannah

If you are fascinated by Orphan Train’s historical plot, then The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is just the book for you. The novel speaks of two sisters Vianne Mauriac and Isabelle Rossignol, in a parallel story after they part ways on the eve of WW2.

Vianne takes the role of sheltering Jewish families despite the violence and torture inflicted upon her. Isabelle, being more rebellious, plots against Nazi propaganda from time to time. Therefore she is called “The Nightingale” and is continuously hunted by Nazis. 

The Nightingale book review is primarily for readers who are curious about World War II events. It narrates real historical facts and actions taken place in France against Nazi territory. The characters and parts of their story are fictional. But the French resistance about women in the novel is inspired by real-life rebels of WW2.

3. The Light Between Oceans, By M.L. Stedman

Set in the aftermath of WW1, “The Light between Oceans” is one of the heart wrenching historical fiction books similar to Orphan Train in the light of reunification with lost families. On an isolated island of Australia, a diligent lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabelle are grieve stricken by Isabelle’s miscarriage, not one but three times.

One day Isabelle hears a baby crying, and the couple found a boat on the shore carrying a baby and a dead man. Isabelle considers the infant a gift from God and claims the baby as their own despite Tom’s disagreement. But when the Sherbourne family and their daughter Lucy travel to the mainland, they found their choice of joy was another person’s tragedy. Stedman’s literary style is as emotionally compelling as Kline’s Orphan Train.

4. All the Light We Cannot See, By Anthony Doerr

As it is similar to Orphan Train Theme, we want to recommend another historical fiction, ‘All the Light We Cannot See’. This fiction is set during World War II when France was occupied by German occupation.

The story revolves around two protagonists, a blind French girl ‘Marie-Laure LeBlanc’ and a German orphan boy ‘Werner Pfennig’. The two leads cross paths in a heartwarming way that I will not spoil for you. To get you emotionally blown away by the plot, I shall avoid giving the detailed summary of “All the Light We Cannot See” .

5. The Kitchen House, By Kathleen Grissom

Like Molly of Orphan Train, Lavinia of The Kitchen House is also a 7-year-old orphaned who travels from Ireland to a tobacco plantation. She works in the kitchen house as a slave but eventually becomes attached to her adoptive family. Her loyalties are brought to question when she is to expose the worst and best of the family that sheltered her. To find out The Kitchen House similar books, check this list.

6. Lilac Girls, By Martha Hall Kelly

Like Orphan Train, Lilac Girls review is about a story of the survivors of a tragic part of history. But this book is about the resistance of WW2. Hitler’s invasion of Poland devastates Caroline Ferriday’s life, who used to be a Broadway actress.

An ocean away, a Polish teenager ‘Kasia Kuzmerick’ takes on the active role of a courier for an underground resistance movement. In Germany, ‘Herta Oberheuser’, a young doctor, is dominated and trapped in a male-dominated Nazi rule and power.

The stories of these three women cross continents and ‘Lilac Girls’ book does a brilliant job connecting them together as well as bringing justice to the forgotten heroes of history. undoubtedly, one of the good books like Orphan Train in this list.

7. The Invention of Wings, By Sue Monk Kidd

‘The Invention of Wings’ resembles Orphan Train as it’s also explores the horror of American history. ‘Sarah Grimke’ grew up witnessing the brutality of the slavery system. Unable to accept the oppression, ‘Sarah’ and her fiery sister ‘Angelina’ are on a path to achieve their ambition of slavery and women’s rights. The powerful novel depicts that one doesn’t need actual wings in order to fly.

Get 30 Days Free Trial of Audible to try out an audiobook or try out Kindle Unlimited to Download Unlimited Books.

Bonus book of Interest

Beneath a Scarlet Sky, By Mark Sullivan

This is a novel similar to Orphan Train as it tells a story set in a significant historical timeline. ‘Beneath a Scarlet Sky’ book is a triumphant story of an Italian teen ‘Pino Lella’ who was quite indifferent to the war. But his indifference was short-lived as the Nazis demolish his family home. He then takes on the role of helping Jews escape in an underground railroad.

There he falls for a widow named ‘Anna’. Pino’s parents’ attempt to protect him results in Pino being a spy in the Nazi territory in Italy. Pino’s love for Anna induces him to fight the horror of WW2.

The Book Thief, By Markus Zusak

We hope you are sticking by the end of the list. Because the final book I will recommend is as historically illuminating as Orphan Train. The Book Thief published in 2005 and, like Orphan train, ‘The Book Thief’ became an international bestseller. The book was also adapted into a film in 2013 by the same name. 

The novel narrates the story of Liesel. Liesel is a German girl left with her foster parents right before WW2. She starts stealing books before she could even read. Amidst the horrors of war and continuous raids, her kind foster father, Hans, takes in a Jew and hides him in the basement. As Liesel’s obsession for books grows stronger, death travels the earth taking more souls than ever.

If you read any books like Orphan Train, then feel free to comment below. I would love to know your opinion.

[Bookslikealike.com] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Leave a Comment