Review: The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron
By Jim Shepard
Vintage, Paperback, 9781101872741, May 2016, 272pp.

The Short of It:

Based on true events, Shepard tells the story of a young boy and his family as they struggle to survive Germany’s occupation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Rest of It:

There are many books written about the Holocaust. Some are beautifully written and nearly all of them are pretty heavy in tone. This one is a little different. The story is told from a young boy’s point of view. A young boy who happens to be street smart and a bit of a wretch. Somehow, that makes the story he’s telling a little easier to digest.

Although not likable, Aron is a survivor and he comes in contact with many characters both young and old who directly impact him and his quality of life. Hunger, illness, lice outbreaks and the continued loss of personal property and loved ones, puts Aron on the street, and that is where he meets Dr. Janusz Korczak, a pediatrician , the true hero of this story.

As I said earlier, although fictionalized, the story is based on true events and when I turned that last page, I was eager to know more about Dr. Janusz Korczak (birthname Hersz Goldszmit). I think Shepard could have written the entire book about him.

All in all, The Book of Aron was a good book to discuss. The book club that I belong to had plenty to say about it. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning but it picked up about halfway through. I hesitate to say it but for a book with this subject matter, the tone felt lighter to me than most. It wasn’t particularly heavy until the end.

I’ve never read anything by Shepard before but now I am interested in reading his other book, Project X, about middle-school (another heavy topic),

Have you read The Book of Aron or Project X?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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8 thoughts on “Review: The Book of Aron”

  1. This was one of the selections for the Tournament of Books this year, so I picked up a copy based on the judges’ comments. Of course, I have not gotten around to reading it yet, but one day I will. I have such a macabre fascination with the Holocaust and the psychology behind it.

    1. I didn’t realize it was on the TOB list this year. I always look at that list but for some reason that one title escaped me. However, it was very good. Different in feel, slightly. The ending was powerful and I had to read it no less than three times because it hit me so hard.

  2. I’m glad you reviewed this one. I recall when it came out it got strong reviews in the newspapers. I haven’t read the author before but I am thinking about this one. The Warsaw Ghetto has been the subject of some intense books. !

    1. Since the story focuses on the kids mostly, the heavier stuff kind of takes a backseat until the last third of the book. Yes, there is famine and sickness and all that stuff you’d expect but from Aron’s point of view, it’s somewhat tempered.

  3. I haven’t read either so thanks for this intro. Makes me think of the movie “Life is beautiful” as that one has a lighter tone and even comedic although conveying a serious subject. From what you describe, The Book of Aron sounds like good movie material. 😉

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