"The Book of Aron: a novel" by Jim Shepard (Knopf, 2015)


The Warsaw Ghetto though the eyes of a Jewish child.  Aron and his family, along with thousands of Polish Jews, were herded from the countryside into the city where they had no support systems.  Warsaw Jews were forced from their homes outside the ghetto into immediately overcrowded slums within the ever shrinking ghetto blocks.  

"The Book of Aron" is the fictionalized story of Dr. Janusz Korczak, who devoted his life to Jewish children in his orphanage and mobilized their spirits as all were forced into trains to the concentration camp and slaughter.  But the focus is on the wily country bumpkin of a child who survives his family, only to die with other orphans.  The unfolding story is a bit like William Golding’s "Lord of the Flies", but with good and evil adults surrounding the chaotic juvenile core.

Not a pleasant read because of the subject matter.  Shepard is a masterful writer—direct and concise.  An excellent reminder of how fortunate we are in our lives, while other suffered so much in the past and continue to suffer in wars today.