In an author”s note at the beginning of this bittersweet story of an orphan girl, Jane Buchanan reports that between 1854 and 1929, more than 150,000 orphaned and abandoned children rode the Orphan Trains to new lives. While some of the children told of being grateful and happy in their new lives, many were abused and not cared for. Although Buchanan”s story is fictional, it is based on the experiences of the Orphan Train riders. When six-year-old Hattie”s family dies in a New York City tenement fire, she is sent to the orphanage. After three years, she is put on the Orphan Train to Nebraska, where she is immediately taken in by a farmer, Henry, and his wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is terribly depressed over the deaths of her two young children, and while Henry tries to be kind to Hattie, her new "mother" is withdrawn and uncommunicative. Hattie wonders if she has been taken in to be a servant rather than a daughter. Over time, Henry and Elizabeth are both nice to Hattie, and Henry teaches her how to be a farm girl. Hattie reads to Elizabeth, and tries to find a way into the woman”s loneliness. But it is the farm animals, primarily a cat named Cloud, that seem to be the ones that truly love Hattie, and although Hattie has fared better than the other orphans who rode with her on the Orphan Train, she still does not feel that she really has a home and family. It is not until Cloud dies and Hattie herself takes ill that she realizes how much her new family wants and needs her to be with them. This is a gentle, compelling story about people making the best of bad situations, and coming to terms with deeply felt grief.