A Family Apart

Joan Lowery Nixon, Author
Joan Lowery Nixon, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-05432-3
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
This first book of the Orphan Train Quartet tells the story of Frances Mary, 13, eldest of the six Kelly children. Life in New York's grim 19th century slums consists of hardship for the poor but honest Kelly clan. When widowed Mrs. Kelly feels that she is no longer capable of providing for her children, she sends them west on the Orphan Train, to be adopted by farm families. Frances masquerades as a boy in order to be adopted with Petey, the brother she promised her mother she would protect. The practical difficulties Frances faces in maintaining this disguise are handled in an amusing and thoughtful manner. Since Frances and Petey are adopted by a couple with strong abolitionist sympathies, it should come as no surprise that Frances, just days after her arrival on the farm, finds herself helping two runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. Though the plot is predictable and sometimes overly sentimental, and the Kelly family lapses into stilted Irish syntax, the rapid succession of high-spirited adventures make for lively reading. Ages 10-up. (October)
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