THE GIRL FROM THE TRAIN
Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakob Kolwaski 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 intend 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 Jakob discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. 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 say 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 over come.
I have a certain fascination for World War II stories and I especially love it when I find one with a unique angle. The Girl From the Train is just such a book. I didn't know a lot about the political climate of Poland before reading this book -- both during the war and afterwards with the rise of Communism. And I knew absolutely nothing about the relocation of German orphans to South Africa after the war. These tumultuous events form a fascinating backdrop to this compelling story.
Gretl is a survivor -- a chameleon who makes herself over to accommodate each new situation she finds herself in. Unpacking all those layers in order to discover the real woman within makes for a fascinating read as we follow her from a frightened six-year-old to a confident young woman.
Jakob a Polish patriot with a deep love for his country, wrestles with relentless demons. One of them is the situation that brings Gretl into his care. He is both courageous and foolish in his ardent pursuit of a united homeland.
This is an emotional read and an eye-opening one. It's a story rich in hope for humanity and in the everlasting power of love.
If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of The Girl From the Train please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 1 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!