Excellent Tale, Endearing and Powerful

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“No one is born knowing everything.” - The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone

I was excited to read this book because, although I know a lot about WWII I know almost nothing about the aftermath in Europe. This book recounts the story of Amerigo, a poor Italian child who witnessed the bombings in southern Italy by the Nazis, who is sent on the Children’s train by his mother to Northern Italy. This story, while fictional, is based on real events where poorer children were sent to richer families in the north to take care of them during the winter of 1946.

I had never heard of these events before this book, but it was so fascinating. Despite being told from an 8-year-old’s point of view, it brings up a lot of political and social questions about class and right and wrong that made me think. While it seemed like good citizenry to make sure children are taken care of (and, honestly, survive) in a country ravaged by war, many southern Italians saw this as families selling their children like cattle. And then when some kids decided to stay with their richer norther families? A minefield of emotions and conflicting ideologies.

In short, I really loved this book. It was sweet, tragic, thought provoking, and a new story I had never heard. Would recommend for sure.