Wow. I’ll say it again. Wow. I was not prepared for this book. The premise and the cover intrigued me, but I had no idea the journey I would be taking. I don’t exaggerate when I say it took my breath away. I know you’ve heard the phrase “I could hardly put it down”. Well, here it comes again. 😉 I read this entire book in 2 days.
Hold on to your seat, friends! This heartfelt coming-of-age story sweeps through several years and settings. The journey is long, but worth it. My heart was instantly charmed by the brave, young Gretl, just like Jakob. Following her through the fields of Poland in 1944 to the orphanage in Germany, then on to South Africa in 1956, proved to be an incredible story. I think it’s impossible to finish this book without feeling like you’ve gained a friend or two. Both Gretl and Jakob were such vivid people on the page.
I shared in Gretl’s fears and her ambitions and her love for those she loved. It’s not hard to see why she cares for Jakob. He’s strong and faithful, not to mention he’s her hero in every way. Their story is a beautiful one, but please… let them be the ones to tell it. Don’t take my word for it. You should hear it from them.
It did take me a little while to adjust to the writing style. Many scenes are short and quick and packed full of detail. But it never drowned the story. It merely built upon the foundation. The historical aspects appeared to be carefully researched. It was impressive, really. I felt like I learned a lot more about the time period. It had a very honest and realistic feel to it.
The Girl From The Train is an epic tale of sacrifice and friendship and hope. It’s romantic and it’s healing. The courage of the characters will seep into the readers. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorites for the year!
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and the TNZ Fiction Guild for my copy.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. 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 intend 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 in. 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She’s the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa, but this will be her first novel published in English. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.