The Christmas Train
By: Rexanne Becnel
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 11/17/2014
My Rating: 5 Stars
On the train to meet her father, young Anna Spano befriends Eva Stephens, an older woman who occasionally thinks she’s traveling to her home village in pre–World War II for the holidays. Recognizing Miss Eva’s disorientation as the same dementia her late grandmother experienced, Anna isn’t sure who is actually taking care of whom on the journey.
At the far end of the journey, Tom Thurston is anxious about what to expect when his daughter arrives. So he’s doubly shocked when a teary old woman embraces him, convinced that he is her long-lost brother.
At Anna’s insistence, he reluctantly agrees to bring the woman home with them and try to locate her family. And as Anna clings loyally to her new friend, and Tom struggles to be who Miss Eva needs him to be, both father and daughter begin to understand one another. And through Miss Eva, they learn the true meaning of family, and of love.
A special thank you to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Christmas Train by Rexanne Becnel is one of the most inspiring and beautiful Christmas books, I have read this season! A remarkable and heartwarming story of the value of family, love, and responsibility and the devastating repercussions of losing the people you most loved.
Anna is ten years old and unfortunately, has a mom who dumped her at her grandmother’s house when she was three and has not been involved in her life since. She has been living with her beloved Nana Rose, until she died. She misses her and now she has no one.
Her mom got pregnant in college and when the father did not want to marry her, she did not allow him to be a part of his daughter’s life and has never met her. Now since Nana Rose is not around to take care of Anna, she calls Tom (Anna’s father) to let him know she is putting her on a train and he is to take over from here.
Tom has never mentioned his daughter to his parents, his family, nor his girlfriend. Now Anna will be showing up on a train and he knows nothing about how to take care of a ten year old daughter and how will he explain her to everyone? Poor little Anna is allowed only to take a few things on her trip and after her Nana dies, she finds a present from her and packs it carefully for her special Christmas gift.
Since the train does not allow a ten year old to travel alone, the wacko mom gets on the train and finds a person traveling to the same destination, and pretty much says, look after my daughter, bye. This older German woman, Eva in her seventies and has dementia. She is confused and thinks she is going home to visit her brother for Christmas (pre-World War II). She is afraid of everyone in a uniform as she thinks they are Nazi and the war is still going on. She is back in time when she was escaping, homeless, afraid, and hungry and wants to reconnect with her family. She is a lovely woman who loves family, traditions, and Christmas.
Anna on the other hand wants to take care of Eva, as this woman reminds her of her grandmother and this stranger is really the only person she knows, since she has never met her dad and has no idea what to expect when she arrives.
As these two become close on their long train journey, it is apparent Eva is losing touch with reality and Anna is the one taking care of her. At the destination, Eva thinks Tom is her brother, Karl and Anna is so protective of her new friend, she cannot leave Eve at the train station and winds up going home with them. At Anna’s insistence Tom agrees to bring the woman home while trying to locate her family.
Soon Anna and Tom learn the true meaning of family and love through Eva. A story which will make you cry and smile for a heartwarming Christmas tale. If Eva could search to the last days of her life through decades, for the family she loved, then Tom could do the same
I am a sucker for train adventures and find them intriguing. Fans of The Christmas Train by David Baldacci and Richard Paul Evans annual Christmas books will enjoy, as well as those who enjoy special Christmas miracles.