As a lot of you know I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, especially when it comes to WWII. However, something about this book intrigued me enough to want to read it, and since it wasn’t directly a Germany WWII plot it made it all that much more desirable.
The Children’s Train is a work of fiction based on true events. It has been previously published in other countries but is now being released in the U.S. in English. The story is set in southern Italy in the aftermath of WWII, which is suffering with poverty, disease, and all the affects of war. A Communist women’s political party has put together a plan to save the children in southern Italy by putting them on a train and sending them to northern Italy to be placed with foster families to keep them safe, healthy, and fed for as little as a few months or as long as indefinitely.
The story follows young Amerigo, whose single mother seemed very detached from the beginning, which is infuriating, and the stories/lies he is told about his trip, the adventures along the way, and what happens when he arrives with his new family. When it is time for him to return to his mother, will things have changed or will it be better off for him to remain with his foster family?
Two things that I did not like about this book. 1) I didn’t like the fact that towards the end it flashed forward many years to him as an adult seemingly skipping over a large chunk of the story. So what happened? We know a little bit but not too terribly much. 2) There aren’t a whole lot of details about the factual part of the story here. I found myself having to Google quite a bit to find out for myself.
Aside from that, I found it a very enjoyable read, and the characters are easy to love and/or hate. I found it to be very emotional! I couldn’t imagine sending my child off like that and not knowing if they would ever come back or if they would be taken care of. Very moving, interesting book.