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The Girl From the Train

 

By Irma Joubert

ISBN:  9780529102379

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson-Fiction 

Publication Date:  11/3/2015 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

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.

 

 

My Review

 

A special thank you to Thomas Nelson-FICTION and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 


Irma Joubert delivers a moving and compelling WWII exploration, infused with history -THE GIRL FROM THE TRAIN. A stunning well-researched, coming-of-age tale; reiterating how the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war.

A strong bond of love, hope, and enduring courage-- withstand obstacles, time and place. Beautifully written, a tale of a young Jewish girl bound for Auschwitz, encountering Jakob, a fighter for the Polish resistance who is determined to reunite her with her family. 

In 1944 when 6 year-old Gretl Schmidt drops from a transport train headed to Auschwitz. She is found by Jakob Kowlaski, a young Polish rebel, whose life will become connected to her over the course of the years. Being a German Jew - The Polish despise Germans and the Germans despise Jews. Her family is left with little options---they decide to sneak Gretl and her sister Elza off the train. 

Gretl’s family connections places her in a difficult position-- Jakob has to lie about her background in order to keep her safe. Eventually Jakob must consider his family first and surrender Gretl to a German orphanage.

The historical facts are rich and plentiful, crossing geographical areas, as well as diverse faiths. The two settle in different parts of world, and destined to be reunited years later. There are so many factors working here and the author pulls it off seamlessly.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Russia and Germany. 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—his 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.

What a powerful story! Your heart will go out to Gretl and Jakob. Gretl experiences all sorts of emotions from and of course Jakob --a true hero. She soon learns from an early age—tragedy, loss, betrayal, suffering and prejudice. 

A mix of romance, historical fiction, courage, and hope. 

THE GIRL FROM THE TRAIN, will transport you to another place and time, leaving you fully immersed in the story----making you feel as though you are there with them- every step of the way. Historical fans will devour. At heart, a moving love story. 

If you loved the book, highly recommend Peter Golden’s Wherever There is Light.

 

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About the Author

 

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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