1946: in the aftermath of World War II, seven year old Amerigo lives with his mother, Antoinetta in the ravaged and defeated town of Naples, Southern Italy. Amerigo and his mother try to make ends meet as best they can, but collecting rags and mending means they are just scraping by. A Communist group offers refuge for the children of the South, placing children on a train to live temporarily with families in the North. Antoinetta makes the decision to put Amerigo on one of the trains. Amerigo is confused and upset; however, once he is with his temporary family in the North, Amerigo receives new shoes, clothes, plenty of food and the feeling of a warm and loving family. His northern family also develops his love for music. Amerigo returns home to find that nothing has changed while everything has changed.
The Children's Train is a powerful and heartfelt story of hope, finding home and family. Most of the story is told from seven-year-old Amerigo's point of view. Amerigo's voice is rambling, taking in everything as a child would see and understand it. Most interesting were the views of his mother and his home. Antoinetta came off as harsh, but surviving. Amerigo would always say that many things were not her strong point, realizing that his mother did not show affection in typical ways. The story examines Amerigo's views of politics and hospitality versus charity as he became used to life in Northern Italy. I was intrigued as Amerigo begins to see the impact of the decisions adults madee for him and that love can have many different forms. The last third of the book skips to the year 1994 when Amerigo returns to Naples and begins to see the further impact of his mother's decisions. This was the most moving part of the story for me as Amerigo realizes the different paths that his life could have taken.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.