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Publisher Description

“The innocence of childhood collides with the stark aftermath of war in this wrenching and ultimately redemptive tale of family, seemingly impossible choices, and the winding paths to destiny, which sometimes take us to places far beyond our imaginings.” – Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Before We Were Yours and The Book of Lost Friends

"Ardone’s beautifully crafted story explores the meaning of identity and belonging...recommended to fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels."  – The Library Journal

“[The Children’s Train] leaves you with a great sense of the importance of family and the tough decisions that must be faced as a result of that love.” – Shelf Awareness

Based on true events, a heartbreaking story of love, family, hope, and survival set in post-World War II Italy—written with the heart of Orphan Train and Before We Were Yours—about poor children from the south sent to live with families in the north to survive deprivation and the harsh winters.

Though Mussolini and the fascists have been defeated, the war has devastated Italy, especially the south. Seven-year-old Amerigo lives with his mother Antonietta in Naples, surviving on odd jobs and his wits like the rest of the poor in his neighborhood. But one day, Amerigo learns that a train will take him away from the rubble-strewn streets of the city to spend the winter with a family in the north, where he will be safe and have warm clothes and food to eat. 

Together with thousands of other southern children, Amerigo will cross the entire peninsula to a new life. Through his curious, innocent eyes, we see a nation rising from the ashes of war, reborn. As he comes to enjoy his new surroundings and the possibilities for a better future, Amerigo will make the heartbreaking choice to leave his mother and become a member of his adoptive family.

Amerigo’s journey is a moving story of memory, indelible bonds, artistry, and self-exploration, and a soaring examination of what family can truly mean. Ultimately Amerigo comes to understand that sometimes we must give up everything, even a mother's love, to find our destiny.

Translated from the Italian by Clarissa Botsford

Fiction & Literature
January 12

Customer Reviews

Mandy6804 ,

A Bittersweet & Educational Historical Fiction Novel from post WWII

I thought this was a very unique historical fiction novel based on true events. I've never read anything about this particular topic in history so I was really excited for this book.

This book follows young boy, Amerigo, living amongst the ruins and poverty of WWII in southern Italy. In a means to provide a better life for her son over the winter, Amerigo's mother sends him on a train to northern Italy. Here he will stay with a family that will be able to provide for him and keep him warm.

I think it is so wonderful how many families up north were willing to welcome these children into their homes with open arms. This shows that even in bad times, there are still positives and good people out there!

This book was heartbreaking. It was told from the view of Amerigo, which definitely had a huge effect. This added to the realness of the time and you really felt his raw emotions. I think the trueness of this situation could only have been told from a child's perspective. The chapters were on the longer side, which I usually don't prefer, but they still seemed to fly by when reading.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction based on true events, showing resiliency during depressing times, and anyone who just wants to read a great bittersweet uplifting book!

I was lucky enough to receive a free ARC of this book from Bookish First in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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