Book Review: The Girl From the Train {by Irma Joubert}

Although fiction, this is yet another fascinating viewpoint of WWII and how it affected one small girl. I overall really enjoyed this book!

I don’t often choose fiction books to review but some elements of this book had me from the get-go. World War II has always been my favorite time period to study — specifically concerning the persecuted and slaughtered 12 million-plus people (because you do know that it wasn’t just 6 million Jews killed, right?). And each book I read is fascinatingly from a different perspective – whether it studies the genius-level IQs of Hitler’s henchmen or tells the story of a little orphan girl in Poland, I enjoy growing my knowledge of this time in history.

Book Review: The Girl From the Train

I was a little cautious when I discovered it was a translated book because so much depends on the skills of the translator. The author, Irma Joubert, has written all her books in Afrikaans and this was the first one translated to English. The sentences, at times, seemed a bit choppy (or maybe just short), but then, the “voice” was often a young girl so her thoughts were probably pretty simple anyway. The author’s descriptions of certain scenes or situations seemed to be trying too hard, but truly overall it was a good read and well edited, too.

I don’t want to give too much away, but this girl, originally from Germany, lost her family one by one to the war horrors and eventually became the charge of a young Polish man. This man was active in protecting Poland from German Nazis and Russian Communists and therefore many of the scenes bounced back and forth between his war times and her few years back on his family’s farm. He eventually discovered (and then successfully pursued) a way to get her out of danger through an adoption program in South Africa.

Probably one of the most interesting themes throughout the book was the variety of religions this girl was introduced to and taught to accept as true. It was so well written about (and just smoothly part of the story line) that I had high confidence in the author’s knowledge. I especially appreciated how the girl eventually, with all her experience and considerations, made the decision on her own to follow Jesus (and not just because her parents said to).

Though this was not a true story, it very easily could have been. With millions of stories that could be told from this decade, I do genuinely enjoy new ones that keep history alive. The author fluidly intermingled true events with possible psychological issues the characters could easily have had and also possible results from the fictional events that could also have been easily true.

I read to enjoy but I also read to critique when I’m asked to. I’d say throughout the first half (or maybe even two thirds) I was closer to a 3 out of 5. However, the remaining part of the book had captured my attention enough I ended up giving it a 4 on Goodreads. It wasn’t poorly written — it was just a little slow. Overall, a good read.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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