The most compelling book I've read this year: "The Girl from the Train" by Irma Joubert

En route to Auschwitz concentration camp with her family, six-year-old Gretl is spared from certain death when her grandmother helps her jump from the train, right before the Polish resistance accidentally blows up the train with a bomb meant for a German troop transport. One of the young men with the resistance, Jakob, stumbles upon Gretl and ends up rescuing her, forming a strong bond between them that is forged in secrecy. "The Girl From the Train" follows the story of Gretl as she spends 3 years hiding with Jakob's Polish family before she is sent to South Africa where she is adopted by a family who is unaware of her Jewish roots. After a painful goodbye, Jakob and Gretl can only wonder - will they ever see each other again?

I can honestly say that "The Girl From the Train" is one of the most moving novels that I have read this year, and I am not ashamed to say that I was brought to deep tears during the story. The plot itself moves at a fast pace, leading readers from one harrowing scene to another, and even after the war was over I was still racing through the pages as fast as I could to see what lay next in the character's journeys. From the moment I met Gretl, my heart was stolen as I just wanted to reach through the pages and rescue this poor yet amazingly resilient child. And Jakob himself, though not a child, won my sympathies as I watched him making seemingly impossible choices during the war. I cannot imagine living through such horrors, and the ability of these characters to overcome their circumstances surely reflects the real strength of those who truly lived through such situations during World War II. I was particularly intrigued as the author explores differences in culture and religion, particularly as Gretl herself struggles with whether to be a Catholic or Protestant believer, ultimately showing that both are worshipping the same God in a different way.

Though I myself have never read a novel by Joubert, I can see why she is an international bestseller, as "The Girl From the Train" is beautifully written from start to finish. I award this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and the Booklook program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

about the author...

Image result for irma joubertInternational bestselling author Irma Joubert lives and works in South Africa and writes in her native Afrikaans. The Girl from the Train is her first novel to be translated to English

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