Oh how I loved this book! If you’re reading my reviews, you probably think, “she always says that”. But I’m so fortunate to read really awesome books and my motto is, “life is too short to read bad books”.
This book was wonderful. A truly wonderful, heartwrenching story of a little girl, Gretl, who is on a train bound for Auschwitz. Her mother and grandmother encourage Gretly and her sister to jump off the train, telling them they would so jump and they’d all be safe. Before her mother and grandmother could jump, the train is blown up. The accidental explosion, mean to blow up a German troop train, was set by Jakob Kowalski.
Jacob finds Gretl and her sister Elza and takes them to a family. Elza dies and the family can’t continue watching Gretl when they have four children of their own. Jakob takes Gretl to live with his family. He never really gets to know her until he is injured in the war and comes home to recover. This is where he learns what a smart, special little girl Gretl.
Eventually, Jakob’s family can look after her no longer and he takes her to an orphanage with the home that she will be one of 50 children selected to go to South Africa and be adopted into new families.
As one of the older children, Gretl relizes she’s not going to be chosen so she uses her smarts to get selected and sent to South Africa where she is adopted by a wonderful family. She’s never known a life like this, one of privilege, and she grows up to be a successful college student when she runs into Jakob again.
Jakob had to leave Poland or be arrested and ended up in South Africa because they were looking for engineers and he knew the country was against communism. He also knew that Gretl was there.
They come back together, eventually falling in love. But his Catholic faith and her Protestant faith don’t make the arrangement look possible in the eyes of her father.
This is a wonderful story. It’s sad and happy and I wish it wasn’t over. Two thumbs up!
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