Rarely do I recommend a book with the word “Awesome!” or “Fantastic!” or “Riveting!” and yet all three apply to my latest read, Jim Shepard’s The Book of Aron.
From the first sentence, I was hooked. Shepard has created a character who feels like a real boy. Aron’s voice rises from the pages as he navigates his corner of Warsaw, soon to be walled off by the Nazis and transformed into a ghetto. He joins a gang of smugglers, whose goal is simple survival. Small for his age and puny, Aron is not your typical hero. He takes his time to think about things. He makes choices that are sometimes unexpected. Shepard has him meet up with Dr. Janusz Korczak, an historical figure who ran an orphanage and stayed with his orphans when they were deported in 1942. Do we need another book about the horrors of the Second World War? I would have said no before reading this one. But The Book of Aron was minutiously researched. The writing is excellent. I believe it will become a classic on the children swept up in the Holocaust. Once you hear Aron’s voice, you can’t forget it. My Grub Street teachers have raved about Shepard’s talent. After reading this novel, I totally understand why.