The Children's Train was an excellent read. It follows an Italian boy named Amerigo Speranza who is one of many children in Southern Italy sent to stay through the winter with Northern Italian families post-WWII. I would give this novel 4.5/5 stars.
For me the standout of this novel is Viola Ardone's writing style. I loved the voice of Amerigo. To me, she brilliantly captured the voice of a seven year old boy - how these events would appear to his eyes, a the perfect amount of curiosity and irreverence that a child would have under these circumstances. There was a lot of heart in this novel as well.
I also loved reading about this brief period of post-war Italy. I read quite a bit of historical fiction, and I've definitely read my fair share of WWII novels, but this for me was uncharted territory. I haven't seen another author cover this period, and I think Viola Ardone did an excellent job of transporting me to this setting. I'm from an Italian family myself so the familiar foods and expressions were incredibly realistic to me.
If I had to offer one bit of criticism, I'd say I wished the novel explored certain elements more in depth. The plot moves very quickly and it is a very fast read, but I found myself wishing for some more details along the way, particularly of Amerigo's time in Modena. Eventually there is a major time jump, and although I thought Viola Ardone did an excellent job of recreating Amerigo's voice as an adult, I found myself wishing I had some more details from the missing years as well.
All that being said, this is definitely a novel I would recommend, especially for lovers of historical fiction and coming-of-age novels.