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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 Ita 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.


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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 Ita 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.

30 review for The Children's Train

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 stars. I’m using spoilers even though I haven’t said anything here that isn’t in the Goodreads description, but don’t want to give anything away in case the description isn’t read . (view spoiler)[From the beginning, seven year old Amerigo Speranza stole my heart and his story broke it at the same time. “I’ve never had a pair of shoes of my own; I wear other people’s shoes and they always hurt. Mamma says I don’t walk straight but it’s not my fault; it’s other people’s shoes that are the pro 4.5 stars. I’m using spoilers even though I haven’t said anything here that isn’t in the Goodreads description, but don’t want to give anything away in case the description isn’t read . (view spoiler)[From the beginning, seven year old Amerigo Speranza stole my heart and his story broke it at the same time. “I’ve never had a pair of shoes of my own; I wear other people’s shoes and they always hurt. Mamma says I don’t walk straight but it’s not my fault; it’s other people’s shoes that are the problem. They are the shape of the other feet that wore them before me. They’ve taken on their habits, walked on other streets, played other games. By the time they get to me, what do they know about the way I walk, or where I want to go? They need to get used tome little by little; but then my feet grow, the shoes get too small for me, and we’re back to square one.” He plays a game counting the shoes he sees - with or without holes, none or new, racking up points for a “star-studded prize”. “Until now nothing nice has ever happened to me, though.” The shoes say it all to Amerigo and they did to me as well, in this story of poverty and hunger where young children were sent by their families on trains from southern Italy to cities in the north for a chance to have food and warmth that they could not provide. On the train north, he’s afraid to take off the new shoes he was given even though they are a size too small and his feet hurt . He doesn’t want the only pair of new shoes he’s ever owned to be stolen. So sad. I love child narrators because many times they are wise in their innocence and always genuine in their observations. “Nobody is born knowing everything,” says Amerigo. I connect with them on such an emotional level that I am moved by their hurt and their joys. The first three quarters of the book are from Amerigo’s point of view at age seven and eight in 1946 as he journeys north to stay with a woman, connects with a family, where he finds comfort, and care, friends and hope, and the possibility of a future he would never have had in the poverty stricken life with his mother in Naples. The last third takes us abruptly to 1994 with Amerigo as a man in his 50’s going home to come to terms with his past, his mother’s death, and more importantly who he is as a man. The one thing that was lacking for me was more of the in between events. Having said that, I was equally connected with Amerigo as an adult. When he returns, he discovers the things about his mother that he never knew, her secrets, the things that happened during his absence . He’s faced with deciding whether to run again. This is a moving story which reflects the political landscape of Italy after WWII, a piece of Italian history that I knew nothing about and reflects the poverty and hope to rise out of it that was a possibility for some. I read several articles on whether it was a good thing to send children north or not and there are varying points of view. Whether or not it was a good thing for Amerigo is a something the reader will have to decide on for themselves. I can’t imagine what Amerigo’s life would have been like if he had stayed. A moving story. I received a copy of this book from HarperVia through Edelweiss. (hide spoiler)]

  2. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    Based on true events, set in post-World War II Italy, about poor children from the south sent to live with families in the north to survive deprivation. The war has devastated Italy, especially south. Seven-year-old Amerigo Sperenza lives with his mother in Naples, surviving on odd jobs. But one day, Amerigo learns that a train will take him north to a better place. In the north, he adapts well to his new surroundings and adopted family. At school, he proves to be good with numbers. With his adop Based on true events, set in post-World War II Italy, about poor children from the south sent to live with families in the north to survive deprivation. The war has devastated Italy, especially south. Seven-year-old Amerigo Sperenza lives with his mother in Naples, surviving on odd jobs. But one day, Amerigo learns that a train will take him north to a better place. In the north, he adapts well to his new surroundings and adopted family. At school, he proves to be good with numbers. With his adopted father he fixes instruments. But his ambitions are much higher. He wants to play those instruments, and not just tune them. At 75%, the story shifts fifty years later. And some chapters bring the voice of Amerigo as he is talking to his late mother. It reveals how things followed in his early age and he also reconnects with some lost friendships. The voice of a grown-up Amerigo is interesting and reads well. However, I enjoyed the wit and the voice of him as a boy so much that I wished it just followed the young voice to almost the end or for a longer time. I wasn’t ready to part with the voice of the boy when it happened. I enjoyed a lot the innocent voice of Amerigo, who for example, thinks he can get to America by train until another child explains that he needs to take a ship. But at the time, he doesn’t have anyone to confirm that America is on the other side of the sea. At some points, he made me laugh out loud. “I look the bull in the face and can see he has a nasty temper, a bit like Mamma Antonietta, who is sweet and nice, but when you get in her way, she literally sees red.” Amerigo is such a loveable character. I usually prefer voice of an adult, but he turns out to be probably the most memorable character I have ever encountered. It is a moving story of self-exploration, the choices we face and make, especially when it comes to family. Those are the hardest decisions. What does family truly mean? Written with heartfelt prose, with well-drawn characters facing hardships and struggles, thus well-depicting the time period, and keeping the plot moving forward at all times. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Provin Martin

    The children’s train by Viola Ardone is a wonderfully written tale of a group of young children who set out on a very adult adventure. We meet Amerigo when he is a young child living in poverty alone with only his mother. He is sent with a few friends via train to Northern Italy for chance at better life with a temporary foster family. This book is expertly written from the perspective of a small child. Except for the last part where an adult Amerigo returns to his childhood home in southern Ita The children’s train by Viola Ardone is a wonderfully written tale of a group of young children who set out on a very adult adventure. We meet Amerigo when he is a young child living in poverty alone with only his mother. He is sent with a few friends via train to Northern Italy for chance at better life with a temporary foster family. This book is expertly written from the perspective of a small child. Except for the last part where an adult Amerigo returns to his childhood home in southern Italy. The author takes you through the struggles of poverty and into the loving arms of the home that every child wants. It confronts the struggles of a child torn between a relationship with his mother and a life full of opportunity. It was translated from Italian into English where not a word was lost to the reader. This book is a heartfelt emotional roller coaster that is a must read by anyone who wants to learn more about the orphan and children’s trains that took kids to a new life across the world. It shows how a community must come together to raise their children for a better future

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Desperation Turns into Hope and Survival The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone was a well written historical fiction novel based on true events. It was about a piece of Italy’s history post World War II that I knew nothing about. The aftermath of World War II had left the southern sections of Italy in extreme poverty. Naples, in particular, was riddled with rubble-strewn streets and a scarcity of good paying jobs. Most children living in Naples and other cities in southern Italy had bleak futures. Desperation Turns into Hope and Survival The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone was a well written historical fiction novel based on true events. It was about a piece of Italy’s history post World War II that I knew nothing about. The aftermath of World War II had left the southern sections of Italy in extreme poverty. Naples, in particular, was riddled with rubble-strewn streets and a scarcity of good paying jobs. Most children living in Naples and other cities in southern Italy had bleak futures. Their schooling was limited and their aspirations were not usually attainable. A seven year old boy named Amerigo lived in Naples with his mother, Antonietta in 1946 amidst all the destruction and poverty when a program was instituted to take a large number of these children from Naples and surrounding southern cities away from their lives of poverty. These children were transported by train to northern Italy where they would be placed with families who had volunteered to care for these children. They would be well fed and dressed. These volunteer families would welcome these children into their homes and families. Amerigo was one of the children chosen to take the train. He did not want to leave his mother and the only life he had ever known. After a long and lonely train ride that was full of uncertainty, Amerigo discovered that he had been placed in the type of home he had always dreamed of having. He was shown love and kindness. He was given nice clothes, plenty of food and opportunities to learn and the opportunities to be able to aspire to make something of himself. Amerigo found himself conflicted with feelings of guilt. He still loved his biological mother but his adopted family and his new life afforded him the chance for opportunities to make something good happen in his life. Which life would Amerigo ultimately choose? The Children’s Train was a little slow in the beginning of the book but it got better as the story evolved. It was told from the point of view of a young and impressionable boy. It concluded, when Amerigo now a 50 year old accomplished and famous musician returned to Naples for one final time. I struggled with how parents could send their children away. As a parent, I know that there is nothing you wouldn’t do for your child to make their life better. The choice the parents of Naples had to make was extreme. I can’t imagine how hard a decision this must have been for Amerigo’s mother, Antonietta and how hard it must have been for little seven year old Amerigo to understand. The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone was translated from Italian to English. It was a heartbreaking yet inspiring story. I received a complimentary copy of The Children’s Train in a Bookish book raffle from HaperVia through Bookish First in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    4.5 stars. I can't believe this is based on a true story that I'd never even heard of before. There are so many stories in the world that never get told and that we never get to learn from. Sad and beautiful. I couldn't put it down until it was finished. 4.5 stars. I can't believe this is based on a true story that I'd never even heard of before. There are so many stories in the world that never get told and that we never get to learn from. Sad and beautiful. I couldn't put it down until it was finished.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Full disclosure: I know nothing about Italian politics, then or now. The book begins in Naples 1946 which I assume is being run by the Fascist. It is 7-year old Amerigo narrating his story. Conditions are really bad - no food, no work, no decent clothes, no money. Amerigo is good at counting but can’t read. He is fascinated by shoes but he has none. Children of Naples are invited to visit with families in the Communist north where things are great – people have farms, animals, lots of food and the Full disclosure: I know nothing about Italian politics, then or now. The book begins in Naples 1946 which I assume is being run by the Fascist. It is 7-year old Amerigo narrating his story. Conditions are really bad - no food, no work, no decent clothes, no money. Amerigo is good at counting but can’t read. He is fascinated by shoes but he has none. Children of Naples are invited to visit with families in the Communist north where things are great – people have farms, animals, lots of food and the children get to go to school. And Amerigo even learns to play a violin! After about 6-months the children are sent back to Naples where nothing has changed – they are back to their terrible lives. That system seems to me to be very cruel. Not surprisingly Amerigo wants to go back to the north where everything is plenty. Amerigo runs away back to his adopted family in the north. At page 209 suddenly the book switched to 1994… Amerigo would now be nearing 50 and has become a famous violinist. This is too much of a disconnect with nothing in between. I found this section very confusing. 7- year old Amerigo is a sympathetic voice, funny even, which is what kept me reading but there is something about the whole Communist north being the land of plenty that I didn’t care for. Maybe it is true. Maybe not. I don’t know. The book claims to be “based on true events”. Because I don’t know much about Italy I have no idea how much of the story or which parts of the story are true.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    I am completely shocked by the ratings on this book. The prose is pure awful. Whoever translated this was trying for a dialect "feel" into English. It did not work. Instead it sounds and has sentence form like a "special needs" speech pattern. I'm sorry. That is probably not politically correct. But it is accurate. Honestly, I would never have know we were in Italy or Southern Italy if I didn't read "Naples". Have you ever heard any Italian of any living location or ilk speak this way? Or call pa I am completely shocked by the ratings on this book. The prose is pure awful. Whoever translated this was trying for a dialect "feel" into English. It did not work. Instead it sounds and has sentence form like a "special needs" speech pattern. I'm sorry. That is probably not politically correct. But it is accurate. Honestly, I would never have know we were in Italy or Southern Italy if I didn't read "Naples". Have you ever heard any Italian of any living location or ilk speak this way? Or call pasta macaroni? It's a sad tale. Southern Italy STILL has deficits too long to name in the supposedly "common" Italy of socialist health care etc. And a Southern Italian may easily cringe at the assumptions made here. It's also told without great continuity of plot or purpose. I guess the sad and divisive separation was enough to core this? As if having something better or return to less is a trauma beyond recovering? Kids in G.B. were often separated from their parents for 3 years and upwards as the Blitz was very early in the war. And class too, was often not a strong consideration for where and when. Somehow the tone of this is just "off". I know Southern Italy. Better would NEVER be held as future "chip on the shoulder carrying" fodder. OMG, read "Christ Stopped at Eboli" and not this chick lit. pap. Where will WWII or post war anything go next is beyond my ability to imagine! Revisionist history is one thing. But to make it into a tome of sentimentality? Believe me, when you are starving, a meal is great anywhere. Under any conditions. If you can't make yourself face the reality of a Christ Stopped at Eboli, at least read from someone who was there and a kid. Sophia Loren was. Read her memoir: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow about what starving becomes. Or when totalitarian governments decide where the food is kept and distributed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    The war is over, but Italy is still recovering and is filled with underprivileged children. Northern Italy seems to have come back much quicker and are more prosperous. THE CHILDREN'S TRAIN is a story based on true events that happened post WWII. We meet young children taken from their parents by choice to live with an adopted family in Northern Italy for the winter. The train ride was frightening for the children because they were worried about how the new families would treat them, and they missed The war is over, but Italy is still recovering and is filled with underprivileged children. Northern Italy seems to have come back much quicker and are more prosperous. THE CHILDREN'S TRAIN is a story based on true events that happened post WWII. We meet young children taken from their parents by choice to live with an adopted family in Northern Italy for the winter. The train ride was frightening for the children because they were worried about how the new families would treat them, and they missed their mothers and fathers. There were some funny parts, though, when one of the younger girls shouted: Look it is raining ricotta. It was snow, and she had never seen snow before. You will feel sorry for the children and hope their fears of what will happen to them subside. We follow the life of Amerigo with his adopted family. His adopted parents were actually much nicer than his own We see his life before he lived with his adopted family and also 50 years later. I really enjoyed Amerigo and the Italian names. If you are of Italian descent, you will love this book. This was another event in history that I wasn't aware of. It is educational, uplifting, but also heartbreaking. ENJOY!! 5/5 This book was given to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    I loved Amerigo’s story, and I especially liked that it was based on true events. In the beginning I could tell it was translated into English but as the story went on I got so lost in it I didn’t notice. This was something I had no idea had occurred and I was fascinated to read about. In war torn Italy after World War II children are sent from the south to the north due to low resources following the war. Amerigo was 7 when he found out his mother had signed him up to be one of the children on I loved Amerigo’s story, and I especially liked that it was based on true events. In the beginning I could tell it was translated into English but as the story went on I got so lost in it I didn’t notice. This was something I had no idea had occurred and I was fascinated to read about. In war torn Italy after World War II children are sent from the south to the north due to low resources following the war. Amerigo was 7 when he found out his mother had signed him up to be one of the children on the trains. The children were full of fear but what they found were well meaning communists who wanted to support and care for them. Unlike America’s orphan trains this story indicated it was genuinely done in the children’s best interests and it was well-organized so the children could return to their families as planned. Amerigo of course has struggles in adjusting but he learns that in addition to liking numbers he has some talent for music. The story is told in two big pieces, the winter Amerigo went away in 1946 and his later life in 1994.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patricia E Yarian

    Review is on Bookishfirst

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    The book is based on true events taking place in post-World War II Italy. Beautifully translated from Italian to English you will be captivated by this novel full of children living in dire poverty. Their hopelessness seeps from the pages into your heart as your head tries to grasp the futility of their actions. One young boy isn't giving up so easily though, Amerigo though he only has known poverty,rubble strewn streets and hunger works hard at his odd jobs and survives on his wits living in Napl The book is based on true events taking place in post-World War II Italy. Beautifully translated from Italian to English you will be captivated by this novel full of children living in dire poverty. Their hopelessness seeps from the pages into your heart as your head tries to grasp the futility of their actions. One young boy isn't giving up so easily though, Amerigo though he only has known poverty,rubble strewn streets and hunger works hard at his odd jobs and survives on his wits living in Naples with his mother . There is a train though that will take the children away from it all though, away from this hell they call life. Leaving behind the squalor of despair of never having to wonder where his next meal will come from,always smelling fresh and clean and having the security of a new family doesn't come without the ultimate cost though. Will he be able to handle his memories of the mother he left behind for a new life? Heartbreaking and redemptive this historical is full of renewal and hope rising among the ashes. Excellent this young boy and his perseverance will stay with me when he could have so easily given up. Pub Date 12 Jan 2021 I was given a complimentary copy. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kriti | Armed with A Book

    I read The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone in under two sittings (I only read half an hour or so the first sitting). This book is originally in Italian and was translated to English by Clarissa Botsford. Beautifully written with just the right pace, The Children’s Train is about choices made during hard times and their consequences. The book touches on a period of history that may not be as well as known. The Children’s Train is set in post world war south Italy. There is abject poverty and the I read The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone in under two sittings (I only read half an hour or so the first sitting). This book is originally in Italian and was translated to English by Clarissa Botsford. Beautifully written with just the right pace, The Children’s Train is about choices made during hard times and their consequences. The book touches on a period of history that may not be as well as known. The Children’s Train is set in post world war south Italy. There is abject poverty and the Communists are trying to get the kids away from the dreadful place to the North, where there is food and safety. Amerigo’s mother seems to think of him and her life as drudgery and is unhappy about her situation. As a young kid, only seven years old, Amerigo is trying to understand the world around him – big words like “divinity”, “prejudice” and “solidarity” are regularly used by adults around him. Political words like communist and fascist are also an important part of his world. The kids on the train know the wealth divides very well. The more time Amerigo spends with the people in the north, the more he likes them. He compares them with back home and as he sees other kids happy around him, he feels he will forget home. Unfortunately his time there comes to an end and he has to go back home to his old life. Told in three parts – when Amerigo first goes to live with Derna in the north, when he returns home, and forty years later when he visits home again, The Children’s Train is a thought provoking read about the choices we make or made for us in life. I could not put down The Children’s Train. In some ways, it reminded me of my own childhood and relationship with my mother. I am glad that when Amerigo is older, he comes to understand his mother better and is able to critique his own actions through a grown up lens. I highly recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers. It was an impactful read. See full review on Armed with A Book. Many thanks to the publisher Harper Collins Canada for providing me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I can't believe this book was based on true events! It is set in post WWII Italy about poor children sent to live with families. The war devasated Italy and 7 year old Amerigo lives with his mother in Naples. One day, he learns of a train that will take him to a much better place. Once there, he adapts to his new place and new family. He wants to play instruments. Next, we are 50 years later and Amerigo is talking to his late mother. I loved the grown up voice of Amerigo. He is such a moving and mem I can't believe this book was based on true events! It is set in post WWII Italy about poor children sent to live with families. The war devasated Italy and 7 year old Amerigo lives with his mother in Naples. One day, he learns of a train that will take him to a much better place. Once there, he adapts to his new place and new family. He wants to play instruments. Next, we are 50 years later and Amerigo is talking to his late mother. I loved the grown up voice of Amerigo. He is such a moving and memorable character. This is a story I will not forget. I love Historical Fiction and I always enjoy reading different aspects of WWII and this certainly provided a different perspective. Thanks to Bookish First for my gifted copy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    I received a free ARC of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, author Viola Ardone, translator Clarissa Botsford and HarperVia, publisher. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Viola Ardone writes an intense, heart-felt story that takes you there to Naples, 1946. The fascists have been defeated in Italy, but the country is still reeling, trying to find its balance, and especi I received a free ARC of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, author Viola Ardone, translator Clarissa Botsford and HarperVia, publisher. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Viola Ardone writes an intense, heart-felt story that takes you there to Naples, 1946. The fascists have been defeated in Italy, but the country is still reeling, trying to find its balance, and especially southern Italy is beaten down. Members of the underground and the new Communist party have devised a plan to send some of the more endangered children of the south to families residing in the north of Italy, families willing and able to take in these kids for the winter, to feed them and keep them warm, giving their community time to recover before the children return in the spring. Amerigo Speranza is seven, precocious, curious, and without shoes. His Mother Mamma Antonietta is a woman often hurt who buries her own emotions and never smiles. She does sewing and piecework, and Amerigo collects rags to sell to keep food on the table. His Dad left long ago for America, and may or may not ever come back. Despite the rampant rumors spread through the children of Naples, Amerigo is open to the idea of the Kinder transport. He is to be given a coat and shoes before they board the train. He and the other children push the new coats out the window of the train to their mothers, so that they might be given to the children who stayed. The kids figure that the reds have plenty of money, they will give them another coat or keep them warm inside. And he has new shoes. He has never had new shoes before. It is a shame they are half a size too small, but they are new, and they are his. Recovery from the effects of the War is much more advanced in the northern part of the country. Food is available, and school is wonderful. He is a quick study and a math natural. The lady who is hosting Amerigo is sympathetic and most helpful too. Though things are still unsettled in his mind, he has an interesting, educational winter and he has a new violin made especially for him, and lessons getting him beyond the screeching and wailing of all new violinists. He has found new authority figures he respects, has found new friends along with old ones who came with him on the train. He has his first birthday party for his eighth birthday, with gifts and cake. And in the spring, some of the children choose to remain with their new families. Though Amerigo and his companions return to the south, Amerigo does not fit back into the slot he was removed from. Family is all he has, all he knows. Both his personal family and those he discovered in the north. He must decide what path to follow. And whose heart must he break to honor his own needs? We return with him to Naples in 1994 upon the death of his mother and see him again reassessing his life, his world. He has a nephew he never knew who needs a helping hand. Will he be able to give it? Or should he just walk away... Netgalley pub date January 12, 2021 HarperVia publisher Reviewed on Goodreads and Netgalley on January 2, 2021. Reviewed on January 12, 2021, at AmazonSmile, Barnes&Noble, BookBub, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kea4

    ‘The Children’s Train’ by Viola Ardone is written from the perspective of a young 7 year old boy name Amerigo who is sent away via train to the North of Italy. When he returns home he finds it hard to fit back into that life he left behind. In the end, he makes a desperate and very hard decision that will change his life forever. Wow, I’ll admit that review sounded like the back cover of the book. Here is the deal with ‘The Children’s Train’, you never really see the connection between Amerigo an ‘The Children’s Train’ by Viola Ardone is written from the perspective of a young 7 year old boy name Amerigo who is sent away via train to the North of Italy. When he returns home he finds it hard to fit back into that life he left behind. In the end, he makes a desperate and very hard decision that will change his life forever. Wow, I’ll admit that review sounded like the back cover of the book. Here is the deal with ‘The Children’s Train’, you never really see the connection between Amerigo and his mother Antonietta. In fact, she seems almost distant from him. One can’t help but wonder what happened in Antonietta’s past that makes her this cold. There is a very big time jump that is kind of jarring towards the end. It left me wanting more details about Amerigo’s life as he grew up. It’s not a book I loved or hated. The only thing I can really say is that its a sad/tragic book. I would like to add this note for the publisher. Since these books are going to countries not well versed in Italian history an opening note would be very helpful. Such as it says ‘Based on true events’ but what part is true? If the part of children being moved via train is true then it should have said how many children were shuffled from South to North and how many years this continued for. Also a little note about the difference between the north and the south. IE why was the south so much worst off. It’s stated they were communists in the north but the way its described (again I know from a child’s prospective) one gets a sense its pro-communism. The north has it all (and is communists) but the south does not have much and is anti-communism. I don’t think this is what the book is going for. https://theworldisabookandiamitsreade...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Renee (The B-Roll)

    This book absolutely left me broken hearted, but in a good way instead of a bad way. This book tells the story of a young boy named Amerigo in wartime Italy. The main character is just perfect and is the ideal conduit to tell this story. This books pulls on your heartstrings and begs for your empathy; it is so good! I loved the way Italy is described, especially war time Italy because it gives a new perspective of a place that often only one side of the story is told. I loved the multifaceted q This book absolutely left me broken hearted, but in a good way instead of a bad way. This book tells the story of a young boy named Amerigo in wartime Italy. The main character is just perfect and is the ideal conduit to tell this story. This books pulls on your heartstrings and begs for your empathy; it is so good! I loved the way Italy is described, especially war time Italy because it gives a new perspective of a place that often only one side of the story is told. I loved the multifaceted qualities of this story, which is also reflected in the characters and the characters actions throughout. I also love how strong the ideas of freedom, chance, and opportunity really seem to play out in this story and how these ideas become central to the overall story along with Amerigo’s story as you read the book and learn what has happened and are exposed to what will happen.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This was a very interesting book about a young boy, Amerigo, and his life in Italy. Amerigo is being raised by his mother who doesn't have much money and decides to send him up north on the orphan train, to be cared for by another family. The toll that this takes on Amerigo is seem throughout the story as he reflects on the many emotions that comes along with it. The book gave me a lot to think about. Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc. The opinions are my own. This was a very interesting book about a young boy, Amerigo, and his life in Italy. Amerigo is being raised by his mother who doesn't have much money and decides to send him up north on the orphan train, to be cared for by another family. The toll that this takes on Amerigo is seem throughout the story as he reflects on the many emotions that comes along with it. The book gave me a lot to think about. Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc. The opinions are my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    What a heart-rending story. I was fully invested in this novel when I read the first few pages. This is a story I couldn't wait until I got to the end, because I needed to see how it ended. But I wasn't ready for it to end. Does that even make since? This author takes you along on the train ride with the children from Southern Italy up North, where things are not as hard and desperate. The main character is such a likable, smart young man, he wins over everyone, except maybe his own mother. It w What a heart-rending story. I was fully invested in this novel when I read the first few pages. This is a story I couldn't wait until I got to the end, because I needed to see how it ended. But I wasn't ready for it to end. Does that even make since? This author takes you along on the train ride with the children from Southern Italy up North, where things are not as hard and desperate. The main character is such a likable, smart young man, he wins over everyone, except maybe his own mother. It was a very hard time right after WWII. Food was scarce and so were jobs. Their town still showed signs of the bombings they suffered. Not even to mention the mental stress they were trying to heal from. Everyone was surviving in their own may. I went from one spectrum of emotions to the other. I found myself laughing out load when Amerigo with his best friend decided to make money by selling guinea pigs, cutting the tails off of city rats and painting them like guinea pigs. My heart and emotions were so heavy for the mothers taking their sons and daughters to the train station that morning to send them of the families up north. This was a true example of loving someone and wanting better for them than yourself. I thank HarperVia for allowing me through NetGalley to read this great book. The opinions express in this review are my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    L.A.

    Based on true events of the everlasting effects of WWII left on a war torn Italy. Most of the children that survived suffered hunger and deprivation. Seeking food and odd jobs for him and his mother, seven year old Amerigo Sperenza hears about a train that will take him to a family that will feed, clothe and educate him. His mother agrees to give him up. This heart wrenching moment of placing her baby on a train to live with another family is unforgettable and unbearable to imagine. His love for Based on true events of the everlasting effects of WWII left on a war torn Italy. Most of the children that survived suffered hunger and deprivation. Seeking food and odd jobs for him and his mother, seven year old Amerigo Sperenza hears about a train that will take him to a family that will feed, clothe and educate him. His mother agrees to give him up. This heart wrenching moment of placing her baby on a train to live with another family is unforgettable and unbearable to imagine. His love for his new family and his surroundings melts your heart as you read about the blessings poured upon this child. Most of the story is told through Amerigo’s voice as a child. His innocence is portrayed with his naive humor and explanations of his past. He has the chance to return to his mom and the horrible conditions were much worse than he remembered and his mom’s anger is lashed upon him. He returns to his adoptive family never looking back until into his adult years. This story is told with the utmost compassion for mothers that make the ultimate sacrifice to give their children up for a better life. Cleverly written. Thankful for the opportunity from Bookishfirst and Harpervia to read and review a copy of The Children’s Train by Viola Ardone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Valerie in Nebraska

    "All feet are different, every single one has its own shape. You need to indulge your feet, otherwise all of life is suffering." The Children's Train by Viola Ardone This historical fiction novel, translated from the original Italian by Clarissa Botsford, could be read as rather simplistic, but knowing it was based on true events brings complex layers of meaning. In 1946, parents in post-World War II southern Italy, who struggled to provide for themselves and their families, were given the option "All feet are different, every single one has its own shape. You need to indulge your feet, otherwise all of life is suffering." The Children's Train by Viola Ardone This historical fiction novel, translated from the original Italian by Clarissa Botsford, could be read as rather simplistic, but knowing it was based on true events brings complex layers of meaning. In 1946, parents in post-World War II southern Italy, who struggled to provide for themselves and their families, were given the option to send their young children via train to northern Italy to stay with families who were willing and able to provide food, clothing, and shelter for several months. Rumors of the actual conditions (abuse and neglect) and destination (Russia) abounded, but many parents sent their children off with nothing more than prayers and tears. Because this novel has been compared to "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate, I braced myself to read about the terrible conditions these children encountered when they reached their temporary northern homes. Seven-year-old Amerigo, our main character, is the last to be collected at the train station, a bad omen. However, after some initial adjustment issues, Amerigo flourishes under the care of Derna, her sister Rosa, and Rosa's family. For the first time in his young life, Amerigo has a father figure, brothers, a room and possessions of his own, and plenty of food. Two gifts he receives from Rosa's husband Alcide change the course of his life. However, this arrangement is temporary, and soon it's time for the children to return to their families in Naples. Transitioning back to life with his mother Antonietta, whose situation has improved very little in the months Amerigo was gone, is difficult. It seems unfair that a young child must live with his cold and emotionally unavailable mother in harsh poverty when he has known life in a warm, caring, and prosperous family. The tension of between his obligation to his mother as her only living relative vs. his desire to have a better childhood and future is palpable and resolves in a surprising way. The final portion of the novel takes place in 1994 and sheds light on Amerigo's decisions and their consequences. He wrestles with many emotions and reconnects with people from his past. To share more would spoil the reading experience for others. A theme consistent throughout the novel is shoes - young Amerigo plays a game, adding and subtracting points while looking at the condition of others' shoes; his trade in Naples was to be with a cobbler; and often his ill-fitting shoes and the resulting pain and blisters is mentioned, both as a child and an adult. The quote at the beginning of this review provides some insight into this theme. I'll continue to think about this novel for quite some time, the hallmark of a powerful book. Book clubs can find much to discuss in its 288 pages.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (miss_kellysbookishcorner)

    3.5 stars Thank you to HaperCollins Canada for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review Based on true events, The Children's Train set in post-WWII Italy, a time marked by poverty and devastation following the war. In the autumn of 1946, thousands of children from the south were sent to live with families in the north, where they'd be fed, clothed, and protected from the harsh realities of winter. Amerigo, a seven-year-old boy is one of these children, and soon finds himself crossing the 3.5 stars Thank you to HaperCollins Canada for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review Based on true events, The Children's Train set in post-WWII Italy, a time marked by poverty and devastation following the war. In the autumn of 1946, thousands of children from the south were sent to live with families in the north, where they'd be fed, clothed, and protected from the harsh realities of winter. Amerigo, a seven-year-old boy is one of these children, and soon finds himself crossing the Italian peninsula via train to a new life. One day, he will be faced with the heartbreaking choice of whether to return home to his mother or stay with his adoptive family. It is a story of love and family bonds, of sacrifice and survival. Viola Ardone has done a beautiful job in capturing Amerigo's innocence, and the bits of childish humour throughout add an element of charm to this powerful story. The story was captivating enough to draw me in and disregard this fact I could tell this was a book in translation. I always love learning something new while reading, and the events featured are a part of the war I knew nothing about. The author has done a wonderful job in constructing a story around such an important part of Italian history. At first the structure of this book seemed a tad peculiar; the majority of the story takes place during Amerigo's time away (1946), and three quarters of the way through the timeline shifts to 1994. However, it works and is well suited in this case. Overall, I felt the story was lacking in emotion, and some thing may have been lost in translation; and the ending fell a little flat, but the story itself was moving. For fans of historical fiction, especially WWII stories, and those looking for a different perspective or an international voice, The Children's Train is sure to offer a quick, and memorable read. Content Warnings: war, poverty, absentee parent Favourite Quotes: ""Amerigo, sometimes letting you go shows greater love than keeping you.'" "You weren't afraid of anything. You never lowered your gaze. Fear doesn't exist, you would say. It's your imagination. I've been telling myself the same thing all my life, but I've never convinced myself."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This was a very interesting book about a young boy, Amerigo, and his life in Italy. Amerigo is being raised by his mother who doesn't have much money and decides to send him up north on the orphan train, to be cared for by another family. The toll that this takes on Amerigo is seem throughout the story as he reflects on the many emotions that comes along with it. The book gave me a lot to think about. Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc. The opinions are my own. This was a very interesting book about a young boy, Amerigo, and his life in Italy. Amerigo is being raised by his mother who doesn't have much money and decides to send him up north on the orphan train, to be cared for by another family. The toll that this takes on Amerigo is seem throughout the story as he reflects on the many emotions that comes along with it. The book gave me a lot to think about. Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc. The opinions are my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    KATHY

    Rating up from 2.5 stars, I could never make a connection with this book. Still, it has literary and historical merit. Told from a seven-year old boy's point of view, this story has been translated from Italian. It contains one repeated phrase that made me laugh, but I think so much was lost in converting this story to English. It's very sad, poverty and hunger juxtaposed with love as well as the lack of it. Great ending. Rating up from 2.5 stars, I could never make a connection with this book. Still, it has literary and historical merit. Told from a seven-year old boy's point of view, this story has been translated from Italian. It contains one repeated phrase that made me laugh, but I think so much was lost in converting this story to English. It's very sad, poverty and hunger juxtaposed with love as well as the lack of it. Great ending.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    What a heart-rending story. I was fully invested in this novel when I read the first few pages. This is a story I couldn't wait until I got to the end, because I needed to see how it ended. But I wasn't ready for it to end. Does that even make since? This author takes you along on the train ride with the children from Southern Italy up North, where things are not as hard and desperate. The main character is such a likable, smart young man, he wins over everyone, except maybe his own mother. It w What a heart-rending story. I was fully invested in this novel when I read the first few pages. This is a story I couldn't wait until I got to the end, because I needed to see how it ended. But I wasn't ready for it to end. Does that even make since? This author takes you along on the train ride with the children from Southern Italy up North, where things are not as hard and desperate. The main character is such a likable, smart young man, he wins over everyone, except maybe his own mother. It was a very hard time right after WWII. Food was scarce and so were jobs. Their town still showed signs of the bombings they suffered. Not even to mention the mental stress they were trying to heal from. Everyone was surviving in their own may. I went from one spectrum of emotions to the other. I found myself laughing out load when Amerigo with his best friend decided to make money by selling guinea pigs, cutting the tails off of city rats and painting them like guinea pigs. My heart and emotions were so heavy for the mothers taking their sons and daughters to the train station that morning to send them of the families up north. This was a true example of loving someone and wanting better for them than yourself. I thank HarperVia for allowing me through NetGalley to read this great book. The opinions express in this review are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nan Williams

    I can’t quite wrap my mind around what the author was seeking to impart here. She was obviously promoting communism in Italy after WWII as the utopia for all downtrodden and war torn people – and this continued throughout the book. I’m not sure what the message was for today’s world since the book ended in 1994 – the same year communism was defeated in Russia and the USSR fell apart. There were a lot of things I questioned in the story. One was the total absence of mother-love and family-love in I can’t quite wrap my mind around what the author was seeking to impart here. She was obviously promoting communism in Italy after WWII as the utopia for all downtrodden and war torn people – and this continued throughout the book. I’m not sure what the message was for today’s world since the book ended in 1994 – the same year communism was defeated in Russia and the USSR fell apart. There were a lot of things I questioned in the story. One was the total absence of mother-love and family-love in the original setting of poverty torn Naples and she contrasted this with the loving and caring exhibited by the communists in the north of Italy. According to this story, the deprived children from war torn areas (Unloved by their parents) were given the finest food and clothing, shoes, education (even in a conservatory), etc. with the communists. This was clearly propaganda, but … to what purpose? Or maybe she was saying that even though these children were given all that money could buy, they grew up cold and uncaring because of the rejection felt by their mothers. I think a reader could spend a lot of time pondering the ideas presented here and debating the validity of the history presented. I received an ARC from NetGalley and from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Olson

    I finished this one yesterday and it tore my heart out. It’s a story about Italian children from Naples who were sent up north for a better life after WWII. As Amerigo grows up with his adoptive family he has to decide whether to return home for good or leave his mother and go where the grass is greener. This story was heartbreakingly beautiful and was written so very well. The idea of what life is like and what life could be is so well portrayed in this book. I really got a feel for what it was I finished this one yesterday and it tore my heart out. It’s a story about Italian children from Naples who were sent up north for a better life after WWII. As Amerigo grows up with his adoptive family he has to decide whether to return home for good or leave his mother and go where the grass is greener. This story was heartbreakingly beautiful and was written so very well. The idea of what life is like and what life could be is so well portrayed in this book. I really got a feel for what it was like in Italy after the war and it made me really interested to do more of my own research and find out more about these children trains and how politics was involved with this initiative. I also loved how traditional the book was with the Italian names and dialogues. The author is from Naples and I can’t wait to read more of Viola Ardone’s work! Thank you @harperviabooks and @bookishfirst for my ARC!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Waterman

    This was my first book by author Viola Ardone and I enjoyed her style of writing - at once immersive of the sights and sounds of post World War 1 Italy. I found myself drawn to the struggle of Amerigo and his mother Antoinetta as they each find their way through the post war society that is all they have known. Amerigo is given a chance at taking a Children's Train to live in Northern Italy for a year, and we watch as he leaves his mother for the unknown and without a clue what to expect. I had This was my first book by author Viola Ardone and I enjoyed her style of writing - at once immersive of the sights and sounds of post World War 1 Italy. I found myself drawn to the struggle of Amerigo and his mother Antoinetta as they each find their way through the post war society that is all they have known. Amerigo is given a chance at taking a Children's Train to live in Northern Italy for a year, and we watch as he leaves his mother for the unknown and without a clue what to expect. I had never heard of this arrangement in Italy following the war, and found it so interesting to consider the details of taking these incredibly poor children from their families and placing them in a communist family to be cared for for a year or so, then immediately attempting to reintroduce them back into their old lives. This book was well written and I enjoyed Amerigo's story. I highly recommend this book and will watch for more from this author. 4.5 Stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Sentimental. A quick read. Very interesting stuff with voice--the first half is a child's voice, the second half a middle-aged man's voice. I liked the first half much better, the child who sometimes is so innocent (about politics) and sometimes so wise (seeing no humor in mocking people for having holes in their shoes b/c he knows how much that hurts). Because I love Naples so much, I wanted to love this more. I'm sure if I could read it in Italian and Neopolitan dialect, it would have a lot mo Sentimental. A quick read. Very interesting stuff with voice--the first half is a child's voice, the second half a middle-aged man's voice. I liked the first half much better, the child who sometimes is so innocent (about politics) and sometimes so wise (seeing no humor in mocking people for having holes in their shoes b/c he knows how much that hurts). Because I love Naples so much, I wanted to love this more. I'm sure if I could read it in Italian and Neopolitan dialect, it would have a lot more to it. Meanwhile, it'll be a good movie someday soon.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I have just finished reading The Children’s Train by Viola Argone which has been translated from Italian by Clarissa Botford. The book is classified as historical fiction and takes place after World War II. Italy was devastated by the war. Our story is told by seven year-old Amerigo Speranza who lives with his mother who is trying to figure out how to live day by day. The reader is immediately sympathetic for this little boy who searches for rags and has no shoes that fit him. Left to wander th I have just finished reading The Children’s Train by Viola Argone which has been translated from Italian by Clarissa Botford. The book is classified as historical fiction and takes place after World War II. Italy was devastated by the war. Our story is told by seven year-old Amerigo Speranza who lives with his mother who is trying to figure out how to live day by day. The reader is immediately sympathetic for this little boy who searches for rags and has no shoes that fit him. Left to wander the streets, we have a view into his life. His mother makes the decision to send him to live in communist northern Italy to live with a family. The descriptions of Amerigo getting his own shoes even though they are too small for him, and getting food that he has never had makes the reader feel very sympathetic. On the train, one of the children thinks that the ground is covered with ricotta cheese. I found this book very hard to read and I had to set it down several times. This could be the translation. My thanks to Bookishfirst and Harper Via for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    DNF. This book should have been perfect for me - I love the thought of learning about this period in Italian history as it sounds fascinating. This book was impossible to enjoy because of the way it is written. The short, clipped sentences that were supposed to be like that of a 7-year-old was annoying. It was difficult to get into the story because of this. There is no explanation, really, of what is going on. I wanted so much more from this book.

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