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The Girl From the Train

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  11,114 ratings  ·  1,535 reviews

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób 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 spa

Kindle Edition, 379 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Thomas Nelson (first published January 1st 2007)
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Mary Grantier I would give it to a teenager. I have no idea how it would be rated, I would say it is appropriate for 10 year olds and up

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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  11,114 ratings  ·  1,535 reviews

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Savanna Kaiser
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I’ll say it again. Wow. I was not prepared for this book. The premise and the cover intrigued me, but I had no idea the journey I would be taking. I don’t exaggerate when I say it took my breath away. I know you’ve heard the phrase “I could hardly put it down”. Well, here it comes again. ;) I read this entire book in 2 days.

Hold on to your seat, friends! This heartfelt coming-of-age story sweeps through several years and settings. The journey is long, but worth it. My heart was instantly ch
Rarely is there a historical novel that that so perfectly places all of its elements in a balanced way. The Girl from the Train is a love story, but it’s not a romance. It’s a book about the consequences and far-reaching effects of war, but also a harrowing coming-of-age tale of overcoming tragedy and lasting friendship. The writing style is sparse at times, but yet says everything that needs to be said. The historical details are captivating and haunting, and the same can be said of the charact ...more
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it
WWII fiction seems to be everywhere today and I have enjoyed many of them. This particular novel left me wanting. I wanted to feel more for these characters. I just felt that as a reader I was kept at a distance; seeing the circumstances surronding the characters but not feeling them. 3.5 stars.
RoseMary Achey
I have no doubt this will be a popular book club title, however there were several aspects of the book that will prevent me from recommending.

First, the love story or romance was quite predicatable. You could see it coming a mile away.

Second, religion was such a strong theme in the book-but it quite jumbled. The main character is thrown from a train by her loving Jewish grandmother in an attempt to save her from an unkown future. She is later adopted by a extremely devout Protestant South Afri
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Sort of a World War II light version, missing much of the meat and potatoes usually found, while keeping the sugary dessert table over on the side. I thought it was cute and sweet; not my usual WWII read.
Andrea Cox
I'm not really sure what I think about this one. It was interesting and unique in certain ways, yet not clean like I would have preferred from a Christian book. Maybe it wasn't supposed to be Christian? I got conflicting ideals on that, because there were many swear words but also the story was heavy on faith (Catholic and Protestant). The two ideals contradict one another, since Paul warned us in Ephesians 5:3-5 to abstain from "all uncleanness" and "foolish talking," which includes inappropria ...more
4.5 stars
A riveting WW2 story that follows a young girl's life from the moment her mother and grandmother push her off an Auschwitz-bound train into the Polish countryside in order to save her life. The detail is wonderfully memorable and the story absorbing (though at times disturbing). The story of Gretl/Gretchen/Grietje (names depending on her country) is so deep a tale, and I loved Jacob's parts as well (except for the cursing parts from the war scenes).

One thing that shocked me was that So
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had to give this book a fairly low rating. It wasn't the subject matter which was a problem, although the story itself was one which we have read many times before. When I read the blurb, I was really curious as Gretl, the main character, was the daughter of a Nazi soldier rather than a Jewish girl, and therefore I thought perhaps this book might provide a different angle on the experience of a child in the Second World War.

The issue I had was with the plot and the writing. There is no doubt t
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars!

I absolutely loved this book! One of the best books I've read this year. Will definitely be on my top 12 for 2015! It was about the Jews and WW2 and it mentions Auschwitz, but it wasn't about that at all. It was about a little girl who was on her way to Auschwitz but fled from the train at six years old and was found by a Polish boy/man of 19 years old. He takes her to his family farm where she lives for three years, but they can't keep her for any longer. His real family is growing and
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
What I loved most about this novel is the unique way in which Gretl's story unfolds. The Girl from the Train spans over around 15 years from the time Gretl is six to age 21. During this time, Gretl learns to adapt to different environments and changes her identity as needed. This novel is a coming of age story. It is also about overcoming tragedy and resiliency.

There is a great deal of history woven into this novel; history of WWII, Poland and Africa specifically. I was drawn to turn the pages
Robin Lee Hatcher
This novel covers approximately 14 years in the life of Gretl, a girl whose maternal grandmother was Jewish. It begins in Poland when a train on its way to one of the death camps is blown up by the Polish resistance, killing Gretl's mother and grandmother. From that moment on, Gretl must assume several identities, not just during the war years when she must pretend to be Polish and Catholic, but later when she becomes German again but Protestant before going to South Africa. It reveals different ...more
Katie Hanna
DNF for private reasons (meaning, it's a good story but it was stressful to read for me personally). Cannot comment on the quality of the writing, except to say I really liked the two main characters. ...more
Closer to 3.5 stars-- but gets 3 recorded

Lindsey (Books for Christian Girls)
About this book:

“Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.
As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They mean 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 peo
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I began this book, I thought it was going to be a rather light treatment of the effects of the war on a young girl. As I got into it, I found there is more "meat" to it. The skeptic in me wondered about Gretchen being taken to South Africa after the war. I did a little research via internet, and found there were organizations that arranged for war orphans to be adopted by Afrikaners, many of whom had a german heritage. So we follow Gretchen, aka Gretyl and other names, from age four into he ...more
Kelly Bridgewater
Jul 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Irma Joubert national bestseller The Girl from the Train because the World War II historical fiction has been picking at my soul. Next to suspense and mysteries, it has become my go to genre for reading. The Girl from the Train mentions a six-year-old girl who jumps the train on the way to Aushwitz.

One of the highlights of the book is being told the story from Gretl Schmidt’s perspective. She is only six years old when the story starts and already she has experienced some horrible th
Natacha Ramos
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First half of the novel: amazing! I was ready to give 5 stars by the time I reached chapter 4.

Very, very, very well-written.

I could not stop reading. I was completely absorbed by it.

I loved where and when the story was set and the complexity of the characters and their culture. Everthing was so real! I could relate easily!

I saw a whole new perspective of World War II. It was exciting to learn Poland’s viewpoint in that mess and how some countries react to one another at that time.

Russia, Germany
Jesseca Wheaton
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This book ... I'm just not sure what to think of it. The story line was great, and it had so much potential to be really good, but it just fell flat for me. And nothing that happened in the middle-end felt right. It all felt ... forced, somehow. The idea was great, but I don't know; it just didn't seem to work out well.
Also, the romance and beliefs spread throughout it all really frustrated me and I didn't agree with most of it. So that was sad. I had been so looking forward to the book!
I did en
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Another "mixed reaction". If viewed as a play with three acts, I really enjoyed the first act, which provided a lot of information on the Polish resistance and Home Army. The second act, following Gretl's move to South Africa is somewhat less effective, although still interesting; as is Jakób's parallel story in Poland. It was the final act, which while I understand how and why the author ended up there, I could have done without (or, perhaps, with a different approach to a similar outcome).

Written in Afrikaans, this is the first book of Irma Joubert's translated into English. Two sisters manage to jump off a train bound for Aushwitz, assured by their mother and grandmother that they will follow. Polish militant Jakób Kowalski plants a bomb on the tracks to blow up a German train, but the wrong train is destroyed. He saves the two sisters, but the older one dies immediately from a disease, leaving the 20-year old Catholic in charge of the clever and brave 6-year old Gretl Schmidt. ...more
This was a wonderful story. I always enjoy the coming-of-age theme. The book starts out when Gretl is only six years old and takes you through to her early twenties. Her character is absolutely precious.The relationships throughout the book are very relatable. The history is so well written. I was very impressed with the whole story. Love stories are sometimes predictable but this one was not. I was completely taken in to Gretl's world. It was so tender at times that it took my breath away. If y ...more
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Irma Joubert delivers a moving and compelling WWII exploration, infused with history --THE GIRL FROM THE TRAIN. A stunning well-researched, coming-of-age tale; reiterating how the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war.

A strong bond of love, hope, and enduring courage-- withstand obstacles, time and place.

Beautifully written, a tale of a young Jewish girl bound for Auschwitz, encountering J
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
One of my favorite things when reading historical fiction, is when it makes me want to read more about the topic. The Girl From the Train did just that and it was such a unique era (mainly post WWII) and location (mainly South Africa). Not only that, I really enjoyed the story too.

The history involved in this story was my favorite part. I had no clue German orphans were sent to South Africa after the war (and the requirements they wanted). For having studied WWII, I felt like a major fake studen
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that I was nervous about reading this book. I received it for review and heard great things about it, but from the back cover description, I did not think that I would like this story. I was very wrong! I was also sure that this would be a very sad tale. I was wrong again! Now, it does have sad moments and horrible things that occur. But this is primarily a glance into the life of a little girl who makes it through extraordinary circumstances.

I thought that the path her life took
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This story was captivating. I was hooked from the start, not only by the setting (I have a soft spot for stories taking place in Poland because my heritage is Polish :) ) but the need to know what happens to the little girl who escapes a train just before it explodes. I was expecting it to be mostly a WWII story but a lot of the book focuses on a time when Communism was a big political force in Poland, as well as on South African history. It was really interesting to read, and the author did a g ...more
Hannah Rodriguez
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book
I wanted to cry like the whole second half
Her story was amazing and agh
The feels
I couldn't believe the end where she feel in love and gahhhh I'm not even making sense.
It was beautiful and the rest of the day I'll be floating around like a ghost doing nothing

But the writing was so beautiful and I used the last hour for reading instead of science but whatever

Now lemme go cry.
Katherine Reay
I've read lots of WWII, but never from the view of a South African writer and what that meant, even through the lens of a fictional tale, for that country. I completely enjoy this story. Gretz (she goes through a few names) and Jakob are so well drawn -- and the end is a bit of sighing and swoony fun. :) ...more
The story begins towards the end of WWII, when the Home Army (the dominant Polish resistance movement) in Poland fights against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia, with two main characters, Jakob, who takes part in destroying a German troop transport, but unscheduled train with Jews heading to Auschwitz reaches the bridge first. And six year old Gretl, who survives and Jakob finds himself taking care of her.

An endearing bond grows between those two characters. After an uprising in Warsaw
Jackie Lane
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
All I have to say is WOW!

On a train bound for Aushwitz, little Gretl Scgnudt and her sister are steered by their mother to jump from the train in the darkness of night. Jakob Kowalski is part of a resistance who are setting up to blow up and destroy a German troop transport train, only there is an unscheduled train bound for Aushwitz.

The bridge is blown up and the trains falls and bursts into flames. At the time, Gretl has no idea that the remainder of her family are dead, with the exception of
Lisa Carter
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really gripping WWII and post-war saga about true love and faith in the midst of a world gone mad.
Even with a Master's in European history, I learned a lot about a topic I'd never encountered before—post-war German orphans in apartheid South Africa. Who knew? The kind of story and characters which will linger in your mind long after you read the last page.
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International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She's the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels. ...more

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