The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert

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As a member of the Polish Resistance, Jacob Kowalski will do anything to help stop the advance of the Nazis. But when an unscheduled train bound for Auschwitz crosses the tracks he’s just blown up, Jacob finds himself strapped with a new problem – young Gretl Schmidt escaped that train and is now on her own. The daughter of a deceased German SS officer and a Jewish mother, blond-haired, blue-eyed Gretl worms her way into Jacob’s heart. But with the unrest in Poland, Jacob realizes that he has to find a way to keep Gretl safe, which means sending her far away. Though she’s adopted by a family in South Africa, Gretl always remembers that the same moon she sees at night also shines on Poland and her unforgettable friend, Jacob Kowalski.

What a beautiful story! While it is a work of fiction, the care with which it is written makes it almost feel like a biography. I love how Joubert managed weaving the warp of Gretl’s story with the weft of Jacob’s story. Some of her descriptions are simply striking, and her writing is consistently poignant. Occasionally the writing seems a little bit choppy, but that is simply because it has been translated into English. At times the story is heart-wrenching (and, yes, tear-inspiring), but the lessons of love and the triumph of spirit more than balance the scales.

I would highly recommend this book, especially to those who enjoy historical and literary fiction.

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own.

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