Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Girl from the Train Book Review

International Bestseller

SUMMARY:  Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz.  Jakob Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.
     As World War II draws to a close, Jakob 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.  Through spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people.  When Jakob 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.  Jakob 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, Jakob 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.

REVIEW:  To be completely honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book.  After it arrived, I didn't open it for about a week, imagining it to be full of hurt, depravity, sadness and overwhelming grief.  But, when I did open its pages and started reading Gretl's story, I had a very difficult time putting it down.  Yes, Gretl's life was difficult and there was sadness and formidable times but the way the story was written, it was not overwhelming and was distributed throughout the story as to not grieve the reader too much at one time.  Gretl adapted to each change gracefully and without question, even though it may not have been what she wanted to do.  I loved how her new family in South Africa didn't try to make her forget her previous life but helped her adjust to all the newness, even commenting how they each had made major changes in their lives.  The weight of all the secrets Gretl keeps is very heavy.  The way her family reaches out to her to help her with her burdens is amazing.
     The whole book shows modern-day readers in America just how difficult life was during and after the war for both families and orphans.  It was not easy and their struggles should not be forgotten.
     This was an excellent piece of literature that will stay with me a very long time.  Check it out yourself.  You will not be disappointed.

This Advance Reader's Copy was provided by Fiction Guild and 
Thomas Nelson Publishers for review without compensation.
Irma Joubert, international bestselling author, was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing.  Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail.  She's the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels.  Find her on Facebook at irmajourbertpage.

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