The acclaimed National Book Award finalist - "one of the United States' finest writers," according to Joshua Ferris, "full of wit, humanity, and fearless curiosity" - now gives us a novel that will join the short list of classics about children caught up in the Holocaust.
Aron, the narrator, is an engaging if peculiar and unhappy young boy whose family is driven by the German onslaught from the Polish countryside into Warsaw and slowly battered by deprivation, disease, and persecution. He and a handful of boys and girls risk their lives by scuttling around the ghetto to smuggle and trade contraband through the quarantine walls in hopes of keeping their fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters alive, hunted all the while by blackmailers and by Jewish, Polish, and German police, not to mention the Gestapo.
When his family is finally stripped away from him, Aron is rescued by Janusz Korczak, a doctor renowned throughout prewar Europe as an advocate of children's rights who, once the Nazis swept in, was put in charge of the Warsaw orphanage. Treblinka awaits them all, but does Aron manage to escape - as his mentor suspected he could - to spread word about the atrocities?
Jim Shepard has masterfully made this child's-eye view of the darkest history mesmerizing, sometimes comic despite all odds, truly heartbreaking, and even inspiring. Anyone who hears Aron's voice will remember it forever.
©2015 Jim Shepard (P)2015 Random House Audio
"The story of what happened to children in the Holocaust is not for the faint-hearted. A fictional, first-person narrative from the point of view of a Jewish child in Warsaw - in fact, a child in Dr. Janusz Korczak's well-known orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto - is very brave. And a heartbreaking historical novel that ends in Treblinka may not be what many readers are expecting from a novelist and short-story writer whose ironic touch is often comedic. But Jim Shepard has written a Holocaust novel that stands with the most powerful writing on that terrible subject." (John Irving)
"Heartbreaking but never sentimental, comic but never unserious, terrifying but always engrossing, The Book of Aron brings us face to face with the unimaginable, actual truth." (Daniel Handler)
"Heart-breaking, shattering, charming, and brilliant - there isn't one word that isn't the young boy's. Jim Shepard has written some of the best books I've read and The Book of Aron is his best." (Roddy Doyle)
Aron's experience opens up an entirely new perspective on the tragedy of WWII and most specifically, the Warsaw Ghetto.
When Aron betrays his friend to the Nazis
Every second, every moment, every description and action in the book are terribly moving and important.
Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.
I've read a number of WWII books, describing both the European and the Pacific theatres. This is the first one that offers an almost neutral viewpoint (I know, I didn't read any other reviews that agree with me, either) . There are Jews who betray each other and there are Nazis who are sympathetic towards the Jews. It seemed more like a study of how human beings might choose to behave when challenged, rather than another indictment of the Third Reich. As either one--a psychological invention or a 'Holocaust novel'--I found it weak and uninvolving. Read anything by Elie Wiesel instead.
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