Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Girl From The Train by Irma Joubert

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Genres: Historical, Inspirational
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0529102374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0529102379

Synopsis: Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her home. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I've been a long-time fan of WWII novels, especially when they involve Jewish characters. This one, however, is a truly unique look at the time period, in that the main character manages to avoid a concentration camp by pretending to be a German Protestant child and being sent to South Africa to start a new life.

The majority of the story is told from the perspective of young Gretl, from the ages of 6 to 21. That also makes this story unique and fascinating. I also enjoyed the story of the lasting bond which forms between Gretl and her Polish guardian, Jakob.

Both of the main characters are very well written, and I was drawn into their story from the start. The various settings are described vividly, as are the living conditions during such a difficult time. The ending of the story was wonderful as well.

I was given a copy of this book through the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Rating: Four stars

About the author 
 photo download_zps3l66tvwe.jpg Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years. This experience has stood her in good stead when it comes to doing extensive research for her historical novels. She writes with empathy and a deep insight into personal relationships. She and her husband live in Bloemfontein.

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