The Girl from the Train

By: Irma Joubert
location: Fic Jou

Genre: Historical Fiction

This book is historical fiction- my favorite genre. It is about two stories in history that fascinate me- Holocaust Germany and Apartheid South Africa. What I cannot get my head around is how the Jewish re settlers in South Africa could ever be pro-apartheid, surely from their own experiences they would have to be the first to protest loudly... some did- others cowered in silence. It seems sadly that this book does not explore the horrors of apartheid as it does the horrors of the holocaust. Perhaps a visit to the Holocaust museum in Capetown is in order- it parallels the evils of both regimes. I would assume a book with such Christian content- would off and should have addressed the evils of both systems!

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.

"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" !- Samantha 


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