The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert was unlike any book I've ever read before. I wasn't sure at the beginning if I was going to like the story but I quickly got drawn into the life of Gretl. She was six at the beginning and the story spanned over a period of time covered until she was twenty one. The story was told in her voice, which was different. She was on a train bound for Auschwitz with her mother, grandmother and sister. Her grandmother pushed her off the train, telling her how to land, and to look for her older sister that had jumped right before her. She thought that her mother and grandmother were going to jump shortly after that. Jakob, a Polish factory worker, plants bombs under the bridge the train is heading for, thinking it is a train full of German Soldiers. Gretl hears the explosion but doesn't associate it with the train and her family. She finds her sister but her sister is getting really sick and can hardly walk. Jakob finds them and carries her sister to his family's farmhouse with Gretl following. Shortly after that the sister dies and Gretl is left with no family. She stays with Jakob's family for three years until his mother declares there is no more room in the house with their growing family. Jakob takes her to an orphanage in hopes she will be chosen to go to South Africa and be adopted into a family.
World War II is still happening at the book's beginning. Then Poland, where Jakob lives, is threatened by communist takeover. Lots of political happenings, food shortages, and disease befall the people.
Gretl, with different locations and different circumstances, has to change her name, her spoken language, even her religion over a span of many years.
The author did a great job of character development and weaving in various story lines throughout, keeping a nice flow without it being choppy or disjointed. I learned some new things about that time period that I had never heard before. It was an easy read for me, a quick read that I was taken in by after the first page or two.
I was given a copy of this book by The Fiction Guild for my honest review, which I have given.