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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.4 out of 5
5 Stars
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  • Long, drawn out novel!

    I just finished the novel The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert. It is 1944 in Southern Poland and Gretl Schmidt (six years old) is on a train with her Grandmother, Mother, and sister, Elza (fourteen) bound for a concentration camp. Elza and Gretl are told to jump from the train to save themselves. The girls jump off just in time because this train is blown up shortly down the line. Jakob Kowalski is fifteen years old and a member of the Home Army (resistance). His group planted bombs on the bridge to blow up a German troop train. The train with the Jews was no scheduled to come through the area. Jakob rescues Elza and Gretl. Unfortunately, Elza becomes ill and does not make it. Jakob takes Gretl home to his family farm where she will live for the next four years. The two become very close during this time. A time comes when his family no longer wants Gretl on the farm. Jakob takes her to Germany to get Gretl into a program that is relocating German Protestant orphans to South Africa. They only want Aryan children (Gretl easily passes and it helps that her father was an SS Officer who died in 1941—and she has proof). Gretl learns to hide her past in order to get a new future. Gretl never forgets Jakob and hopes to see him again. When Jakob is forced to flee Poland and gets an opportunity to work in South Africa, he jumps at it in the hopes of seeing Gretl again. Will Gretl and Jakob be able to reconnect? The Girl from the Train is told from the perspective of Gretl and Jakob. We get to see Gretl grow up and embrace her new life in South Africa. We learn how Jakob survived the war and how the communists changed Poland (we also get quite a bit of information on communism which made for dry reading). I did find The Girl from the Train to be a long winded book (very drawn out). I did not think it would ever end (and the ending was predictable). The Girl from the Train is basically one long historical romance novel (emphasis on the history). I think that the World War II theme has just been very overdone this year. The writing is good, but I found it difficult to get into the story (to connect with Gretl). I give The Girl from the Train 3 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of The Girl from the Train from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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    7 person found this review helpful

    7 people found this review helpful

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • One of the best books I've ever read!

    If it were possible to give this a hundred stars, that still would not be enough to show how very much I love this book. Maybe the following two things will. 1. This is the second best book that I’ve read in 2015. 2. This is the second best book that I have ever read in the thirty seven years that I’ve been reading. I always have such a hard time writing reviews because I find it hard to be careful of what details I should mention and what I should not. The Girl From The Train is based off of true stories told by German war orphans who had been sent to South Africa to be adopted in order to “strengthen the Aryan bloodlines”. Gretl – her name changes a few times throughout the book depending on where she is – is one resilient child who adapts quickly from the ravages of WWII to being rescued by a young man who takes her home to his family in Poland and then leaves her to fight in the Home Army and nearly dies; from being left in a German orphanage in the hopes of her being adopted by a South African family to being adopted and adapting to a comfortable lifestyle where clothes were numerous, shoes were no longer a luxury, and the instant love of a family who enveloped her and made her feel safe. The author packs quite the punch as we’re treated to Gretl’s story over the span of fifteen years. It’s easy to tell that English is not her (the author, that is} native language, but it didn’t take away from the story. Even though I didn’t like parting from the book, I found myself looking up the meanings of German, Polish, and Afrikaans words and items that I’d never heard of {such as a Primus Stove}. If there was something missing, it was only my inquisitive nature to learn more of the ghetto that Gretl talked about several times. There’s also the fact that so much of Gretl’s life was glossed over and seemed a bit too perfect once she was adopted by the Neethlings and she settled down into her new family and country. It wasn’t until the last 50 pages that she – and Jakob – really struggled with their relationship and the changes that took place. Differing faiths is weaved throughout the book, but it’s more prominent in the first half, and only really an issue in the last fifty pages or so. There is minor cussing, kissing, drinking, and smoking that is mentioned, but for me it didn’t take away from the inspirational tone. Throughout time people drank wine – Jesus turned water into wine! – people kiss outside of marriage, light cussing isn’t always frowned upon {nothing more than bloody hell or one use of the word bastard}, and men smoked cigars. Again, the author of this book is Afrikaans and it’s easy to tell that English is not her first language. I recommend this book for anyone over the age of sixteen; especially those with a love of history and an unexpected romance blossoming through one of the darkest times humanity has ever lived through. Disclaimer: Many thanks to Thomas Nelson/Zondervan and the Fiction Guild for sending me an ARC of this beautiful book. All opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

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    5 person found this review helpful

    5 people found this review helpful

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The girl from the train

    A beautifully written, evocative telling of the heartache and misery endured by a little girl and the ultimate outcome of having faith in how your life will be.

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    2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The girl from the trsin

    Loved this book. Couldn't wait to be reading each night. Lively story that keeps you wanting to keep reading

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    1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Beautiful

    This is a story about hardship and prejudice and the horror of the second world war and the love that persevered . This is not just a love story but it is a beautiful love story that the author has managed to capture in all it's angst and poignancy. I loved this book!

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    1 person found this review helpful

    1 people found this review helpful

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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