Earlier this year, Montage Hotels & Resorts named New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer as the brand’s literary ambassador for the year ahead. In this role, Meltzer recommends his favorite literary finds for both children and adults each month on MontageMagazine.com. Below you will find his book suggestions for the month of December.
Orphan Trains, which ran from 1854 and 1929 from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carried thousands of abandoned children who were hoping to be adopted by kind and loving families to avoid a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude. As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one of those children sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning to the East Coast when she is much older, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine. Her memories of the past are a blur, but in her attic, hidden in trunks, are memories of her turbulent past. Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is “A dark and brooding work that explores a hidden part of American history,” Meltzer says. “It’s about loss, but also incredible … strength.”
Molly Lou Melon is short and clumsy, has buck teeth, and “has a voice that sounds like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor.” She doesn’t mind. Her grandmother has always told her to walk proud, smile big, and sing loud, and she takes that advice to heart. But then Molly Lou has to start in a new school and meets a horrid bully named Ronald Durkin who picks on her on the very first day. But Molly Lou Melon, thanks to her grandmother’s advice to “Sing out clear and strong and the world will cry tears of joy,” knows just what to do about that. “It’s about a bully and a little girl, but I promise it’s not the story you think,” Meltzer says of this children’s book. “But it does show that everyone has their gifts.”
Check back next month for Meltzer’s book recommendations for January. Also, be sure to take a look at Meltzer’s November book recommendations.