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  • A train ride through history!

    The Children's Train was an interesting slice of history to learn about. This book is based on true events back after World War 2 in Italy. Some of the people down south were having difficulties taking care of their children and so groups of people organized charity work in sending them (the kids) up north to foster families, for a season or even longer. This story is from the point of view of one of those children, Amerigo who was seven at the time that he rode the train up north to be taken care of by Derna. You get a good close up view about the differences between the north and the south living styles and I could see it all clearly with the descriptions, nicely vivid. The story was bittersweet with the hardships that Amerigo faced, and his mother (since it was very hard for her to provide for him) and it felt like a train ride itself, meandering through time. I really liked it!

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  • One boy, two lives

    This is a story about an event history, I have never been aware of before. The time is Right after the war, the place is southern Italy. The times are hard and the people are very poor. The Communist party has offered to take a train full of poor children up to Northern Italy where times are better. Amerigo lives alone with his mother, they are very poor. His mother sends him north on the Children's Train. The story is about Amerigo and some of his friends that went on the Children's Train. How they adjusted, how they grew, and their thoughts. Some returned home, some stayed, Amerigo returned home and then went back. He always felt he had two lives, one in the south and one in the north. The story will tell how he deals with this conflict and how he finally find peace. The story is different from others I have read. I learned a bit about something new in history. The characters were perfect, the clothing was described very well, and the settings were stated in such a way I felt like I had traveled to Italy. I enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend it. Thanks to Viola Ardone, Harpervia, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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  • A well crafted compelling read

    I received a free ARC of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, author Viola Ardone, translator Clarissa Botsford and HarperVia, publisher. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Viola Ardone writes an intense, heart-felt story that takes you there to Naples, 1946. The fascists have been defeated in Italy, but the country is still reeling, trying to find its balance, and especially southern Italy is beaten down. Members of the underground and the new Communist party have devised a plan to send some of the more endangered children of the south to families residing in the north of Italy, families willing and able to take in these kids for the winter, to feed them and keep them warm, giving their community time to recover before the children return in the spring. Amerigo Speranza is seven, precocious, curious, and without shoes. His Mother Mamma Antonietta is a woman often hurt who buries her own emotions and never smiles. She does sewing and piecework, and Amerigo collects rags to sell to keep food on the table. His Dad left long ago for America, and may or may not ever come back. Despite the rampant rumors spread through the children of Naples, Amerigo is open to the idea of the Kinder transport. He is to be given a coat and shoes before they board the train. He and the other children push the new coats out the window of the train to their mothers, so that they might be given to the children who stayed. The kids figure that the reds have plenty of money, they will give them another coat or keep them warm inside. And he has new shoes. He has never had new shoes before. It is a shame they are half a size too small, but they are new, and they are his. Recovery from the effects of the War is much more advanced in the northern part of the country. Food is available, and school is wonderful. He is a quick study and a math natural. The lady who is hosting Amerigo is sympathetic and most helpful too. Though things are still unsettled in his mind, he has an interesting, educational winter and he has a new violin made especially for him, and lessons getting him beyond the screeching and wailing of all new violinists. He has found new authority figures he respects, has found new friends along with old ones who came with him on the train. He has his first birthday party for his eighth birthday, with gifts and cake. And in the spring, some of the children choose to remain with their new families. Though Amerigo and his companions return to the south, Amerigo does not fit back into the slot he was removed from. Family is all he has, all he knows. Both his personal family and those he discovered in the north. He must decide what path to follow. And whose heart must he break to honor his own needs? We return with him to Naples in 1994 upon the death of his mother and see him again reassessing his life, his world. He has a nephew he never knew who needs a helping hand. Will he be able to give it? Or should he just walk away... Netgalley

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  • Excellent and well written

    The war is over, but Italy is still recovering and is filled with underprivileged children. Northern Italy seems to have come back much quicker and are more prosperous. THE CHILDREN'S TRAIN is a story based on true events that happened post WWII. We meet young children taken from their parents by choice to live with an adopted family in Northern Italy for the winter. The train ride was frightening for the children because they were worried about how the new families would treat them, and they missed their mothers and fathers. There were some funny parts, though, when one of the younger girls shouted: Look it is raining ricotta. It was snow, and she had never seen snow before. You will feel sorry for the children and hope their fears of what will happen to them subside. We follow the life of Amerigo with his adopted family. His adopted parents were actually much nicer than his own We see his life before he lived with his adopted family and also 50 years later. I really enjoyed Amerigo and the Italian names. If you are of Italian descent, you will love this book. This was another event in history that I wasn't aware of. It is educational, uplifting, but also heartbreaking. ENJOY!! 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Bittersweet post WWII historical fiction

    The Children's Train takes place in post WWII Italy. Amerigo Speranza, the child of a emotionally distant, poverty stricken single mother in Naples is sent to northern Italy with a group of children to live with communist families for six months. The north was more affluent than the south and the goal was to feed and educate the children. Amerigo's northern family is supportive and encouraging, and he can envision an entirely different life from that he had in Naples. When he returns to his mother and the grinding poverty and hunger, she is jealous of his northern family and takes away a wonderful gift he had received from them. He then makes a decision, the consequences of which cannot be understood by a small boy. He flees Naples back to his northern family and decides to live with and be raised by them. The book then flashes forward to Amerigo, a successful adult, returning to Naples because his mother has died. The Children's Train is well-written and the author does a great job of writing from the perspective of a small boy, and then later, from the perspective of an adult man. The reader understands much more about what is happening than Amerigo does during the first part of the novel. The story is emotional, both sad and hopeful. One of the minor characters asks the question as to why the resources weren't directed to the poor parents of Naples to help them, rather than separating them from their children. It is a good question. The story explores the consequences of economic disparity, of poverty, hunger and of family separation.

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