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I was thrilled with this book because oddly enough it was chock full of topics, people and places I have an interest in. I read a lot about World War II, the holocaust, Jews, adoption, South Africa, and faith- things in this book as well as many other topics. I love to read but I'm choosy and if a book doesn't grab me I put it down. This novel definitely grabbed my attention.
This book was quite a journey. I had trouble putting it down and being productive in anything but reading for two days. That's not a bad thing sometimes.
The Girl From The Train was written by Irma Joubert in the language she speaks: Afrikkans, and then translated. It was well-written and well translated. Mrs. Joubert is an international bestselling author and it's well deserved if this book is an indication of her overall writing style.
The characters were developed nicely and the settings were as well until the story wound it's way to South Africa. I felt more details could have taken me there more easily in my mind's eye. However the people of South Africa I found easy to imagine and even love. The tale of trauma and poverty to love and healing is really lovely and I will probably even read it again some time. It's "one of those kind". Some books I can't part with because I so related with the characters of I immersed in the story, or some other reason and I know I'd enjoy revisiting it.
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.