File Size: 1630 KB
Print Length: 379 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 3, 2015)
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
I have read a lot of books about the Holocaust, both fiction and nonfiction. This one doesn't really qualify as a Holocaust book because it didn't delve into the deeper issues that faced the countries at the time. It was the starting point for the novel, but it is a personal novel about 2 people who connected because of the war. Gretl Schmidt is a young girl who lost her mother and grandmother and her sister. Jakob is a Polish student working to liberate Poland from the Germans when he rescued her. He had found her in the woods after Gretl jumped off the train. His family took care of her till he read of an organization taking German kids to South Africa to people who wanted to adopt orphans.
There are a historical facts woven into the story of Gretl and Jakob; their lives after the war went separate ways. The author, Irma Joubert is a teacher who turned to writing and it shows in this book. The stories of the two characters are interwoven in a seamless path as they grew up in different parts of the world only to be reunited years later. There are stories of how Poland became a communist country; there are stories of how the Catholic faith colors the lives of the people in Poland and how people in South Africa view the Catholic church through the personal viewpoints of varying characters. There are historical tidbits interwoven through the every day lives of the characters.
It is also a love story. It is a lovely story. It is a story of faith as well. It is a book to curl up with on those dreary winter nights. It is a book to discuss over book clubs. It is just an inspiring international tale that ends well. It sounds so simplistic but it really isn't. It is a good story and I can see why it is a best seller in other parts of the world. I hope it becomes as successful here in the States as well.,It’s 1944 Poland. Gretl, a six-year-old German girl, is on an open-car train with her older sister, mother, and grandmother. She doesn’t understand where the train is going, but the reader does – Auschwitz. Gretl’s mother is half-Jewish, and even though she was married to a now-dead SS officer, the family has too much Jewish blood to be exempt from the Final Solution.
The train cars are not locked; Gretl’s sister jumps first. And then Gretl jumps and tumbles down the embankment. She’s to meet up with her sister, and then together they’ll find their mother and grandmother, who also plan to jump. Except the train reaches a bridge – and the bridge has been wired with a bomb. The target was an expected German troop train; no one in the guerilla Polish Home Army unit expected the train headed the other way, to Auschwitz.
Gretl hears the explosions but doesn’t make the connection to the train. She eventually finds her sister, who after years in the ghetto is extremely sick, and dying from tuberculosis. The are found by Polish partisans and taken to a farm family. The teenaged boy who set the bomb, Jakob Kowalski, takes Gretle to his family, where she will live for the next four years. She has to keep quiet about her Jewish blood; Jakob’s family likes Jews even less than Germans.
Based on actual accounts, “The Girl from the Train” by Irma Joubert is the story of Gretl and Jakob. It moves from the family farm, to the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis (which the Russian Red Army, across the Vistula River from Warsaw, sat out), to the program that took German war orphans to South Africa for adoption, and to the first decade of Poland under Soviet communist rule.
Despite the 13 years difference in their ages, the little German girl and the Polish teenager forge a strong and tender relationship. It’s one that will span decades and continents, experience separation and reunion, and eventually have to battle through religious and ethnic intolerance.
Joubert is the author of two novels in Afrikaans, “Ver Wink die Suidenkruis” and “Tolbos,” and two other novels in English, “Child of the River” and “The Crooked Path”. A graduate of the University of Pretoria, she taught history for 35 years. She lives in South Africa.
“The Girl from the Train” tells a little-known story – what life was like in rural Poland during World War II and its aftermath – and combines it with other little-known stories, like the German war orphans and South Africa’s role in World War II. It slows a bit in the early South African middle, but it becomes a fascinating, engrossing story of a relationship that survives despite everything thrown against it.,Of all the books that I have read in the category of historical fiction/fiction/nonfiction, this book is probably my least favorite, unfortunately. As far as imagination of the author and flow, those aspects were enjoyable and kept me reading. However, the very predictable relationship that ensues between two individuals is not one that I agree with. From the beginning, the words used to describe the moments between the two made my stomach turn. When the author finally transitions the relationship from that of what it once was to what could possible exist between the two, it is done in a manner that is tolerable and helps the reader accept what is about to happen. Still, difficult to accept. Then the book ends abruptly. Chapters and chapters of WWII and one or two chapters on the ending. It was too much in too little time.
Still worth a read but not on my list of top recommendations.,This book...I'll try to do it justice. A little girl escaping a train bound for Auschwitz is where the story begins and then follows her and her rescuer through the best several years. She gets sent to South Africa and makes a life there...only for her past to resurface. The pain, anguish, and joy that these characters go through is just the beginning of what families felt at the time. Read it...I bet it will change your life.,I loved this book so much that I read it a second time. Being a part of this young girl's life as she grew through experiences that could strengthen or destroy her was emotional. It is beautifully written and immediately has become one of those books I will read again and again.
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