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Book Review: The Book Of Aron By Jim Shepherd

Book Review: The Book Of Aron By Jim Shepherd

The Book of Aron by Jim Shepherd follows the story of a young Jewish boy living in Poland during World War II. As Germany invade Poland, Aron and his family are driven from the countryside to Warsaw, the ghetto, where he is subject to deprivation and disease. He bands together with some other unfortunate children and they work together to smuggle and steal goods to feed their families, trying to stay out of the hands of the Jewish police, or even worse, the Gestapo. When Aron finally loses everything, he is taken in by Janusz Korczak, a renowned advocate of children’s rights, who is in charge of the Warsaw orphanage. But will Aron and the other children manage to escape the atrocities that await the jews during the Nazi regime?

I found it quite hard to get into The Book of Aron at first and this is precisely because it is the book of Aron. Aron is a young, uneducated boy who has little real understanding of what is going on in the world and he lives life day by day. Shepherd delves deep into the mind of Aron and the story is written entirely from his perspective. At first, I found him to be quite an irritating character, as do most of the other characters in the story, but as time goes on you start to see that perhaps he is just misunderstood. His mother struggles a lot during this hard time but she still has some faith in Aron and it is his relationship with his mother that made me reconsider his character. Aron himself could be seen as a symbol of the Jews during this time as he becomes a scapegoat of sorts – used, punished and mistreated, somewhat unfairly.

Reading about all these children who suffered so greatly is not pleasant and this certainly isn’t a happy read. All the characters in this story are well fleshed out and seem like people that could actually exist. As the story is written from Aron’s perspective we only see these characters through these eyes but somehow Shepherd manages to describe all these characters in such a way that you can imagine their entire life story as well. There isn’t a single ‘happy’ character in this book, there are just people learning to carry on whatever life throws at them and I read this story with a heavy heart.

The Book of Aron really was excellent, however, I almost felt like I was reading a work of non-fiction, rather than a children’s story. This is testament to just how incredible Shepherd’s writing is but it isn’t quite what I look for in a book I read for pleasure. This is the sort of book I can imagine being studied in schools; it is an important novel and should be widely read, but only if you are in the right frame of mind for such a book. If you have an interest in the subject and would like to learn something new then I would 100% recommend this for you or your child, but if you are looking for something to entertain you for a few hours then I would look elsewhere.

I would highly recommend buying the latest edition published by Quercus because it contains supplementary information at the back that really enhanced my understanding of the book. When I finished reading the book, I thought Shepherd had written a great depiction of the Warsaw ghetto, but it was not until I’d read the truth behind the story, detailed in these supplementary passages, that I really felt touched. Some characters in the book are based on real characters and Shepherd did a great deal of research before writing this story. Knowing that some elements of this book are true made this book hard to read at times as the depiction of the lives of the Jews is so horribly accurate and the endnotes only heighten this feeling of sheer horror.

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*I was sent a complimentary copy for review. All opinions are my own.

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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

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  1. 11th March 2016 / 5:33 PM

    This sounds like quite a hard hitting book – but I would definitely be interested to see how to reads. x

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:25 PM

      I’d definitely recommend it if you’re interested in historical fiction Sarah ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hungry_Healthy_Happy
    11th March 2016 / 5:34 PM

    This isn’t really my kind of book, to be honest I don’t read as much as I should, but I know a friend that would love this. I will recommend it to her.

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:25 PM

      I imagine it’s not a lot of people’s cup of tea as it’s not the most pleasant of reads!

  3. 11th March 2016 / 6:42 PM

    I think I would give it a try but have to admit if its a slow start I often give up

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:25 PM

      I hate not finishing books so even if they’re awful I just keep slogging through :/

  4. georgina davies
    11th March 2016 / 8:52 PM

    I know it’s important to read but I really don’t know if i could get through a book with so much pain in it, if that makes sense. Books make me feel so much emotion and I think this would really make me sad x

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:26 PM

      I completely understand. To be honest I had no idea it would be such a hard read before I’d picked it up and I’m not sure I would have if I had!

  5. Angela Milnes
    11th March 2016 / 11:30 PM

    Oh I have not heard of this book before. It sounds really interesting and I might have to add it to my list of reads for the coming month.

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:41 PM

      I’d definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for some historical fiction ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. 11th March 2016 / 11:39 PM

    I like emotional reads and I added it to my goodreads list. Looking forward to read it a few weeks iA. tlc xx :)!

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:42 PM

      I’d love to hear what you think of it if you do end up reading it ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Elizabeth
    12th March 2016 / 7:29 AM

    Sounds like a very interesting read. I do love WW2 novels.

    • 12th March 2016 / 11:26 AM

      In that case you’d love this as it looks at it from a different perspective!

  8. Rhian Westbury
    12th March 2016 / 11:10 AM

    Sounds like an interesting read but generally I go for easy reading chick lit. One day i’ll broaden my horizons! ๐Ÿ™‚ x

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:42 PM

      To be honest chick lit is exactly what I was in the mood for after this hard read!

  9. 12th March 2016 / 11:33 AM

    I’ve downloaded this book to read on my kindle, thanks for the review x

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:42 PM

      Hope you enjoy it Claire! Let me know what you thought of it ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. The Nice Nest
    12th March 2016 / 5:20 PM

    A good review and as I like stories that relate to history, I’ll add it to my reading list.

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:42 PM

      Do let me know what you think of it if you end up reading it ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Jessica
    13th March 2016 / 7:56 AM

    Fun review to read. I better check this book. Love the genre.

  12. Tanya Brannan
    13th March 2016 / 4:48 PM

    I absolutely love your review, however I don’t think it is a story that I will be reading. I visited Poland last year, saw the area the ghetto was located in, and read some of the history. I just think this would be too upsetting for me personally. Thank you for sharing though x

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:44 PM

      I can imagine this book upsetting a lot of people so that’s perfectly fine. I both really want and really don’t want to visit the ghetto site in Poland. Think it might be a bit much for me!

  13. 13th March 2016 / 6:40 PM

    Sounds like a great read, I don’t allow myself enough time to read these days but I should because I really enjoy a good book

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:44 PM

      It’s definitely something a little different to what most people read!

  14. Bex Smith
    13th March 2016 / 7:43 PM

    I might have to pick this up, seems an interesting albeit hard hitting read

    • 16th March 2016 / 3:44 PM

      If you do end up reading it Bex, let me know what you thought ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. 13th March 2016 / 9:01 PM

    I imagine how hard hitting this must have been to read, what they faced during the war and sometimes even today is horrific!

    • 16th March 2016 / 2:53 PM

      I agree! People think that this stuff is all in the past when actually it’s happening not too far away today…

  16. 14th March 2016 / 7:44 AM

    This is a book I would love to read, I imagine it a very hard read though.

    • 16th March 2016 / 2:53 PM

      Yes a very hard read, but well worth it if it’s a subject that interests you!

  17. Laura
    15th March 2016 / 1:16 AM

    i can imagine this was quite a hard book to read. Definitely one to make you reflect on life xxx

    • 16th March 2016 / 2:53 PM

      Yes that’s for sure! It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to live during times of war and easy to forget that there’s actually a lot of people experiencing that now!

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