The Book of Aron: A novel

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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.
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About the author

JIM SHEPARD is the author of six previous novels and four story collections, including Like You’d Understand, Anyway, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Esquire, Tin House, Granta, Zoetrope, Electric Literature, and Vice, and has often been selected for The Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. He lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children, and teaches at Williams College.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
May 12, 2015
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781101874325
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / Jewish
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A powerfully imagined novel . . . [a] profoundly moving book that engages the heights and depths of human experience.”—Los Angeles Times

It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to find safety now that the Italians have broken from Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. The Blums will soon discover that Italy is anything but peaceful, as it quickly becomes an open battleground for the Nazis, the Allies, Resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive.

Tracing the lives of a handful of fascinating characters—a charismatic Italian Resistance leader, a priest, an Italian rabbi’s family, a disillusioned German doctor—Mary Doria Russell tells the little-known story of the vast underground effort by Italian citizens who saved the lives of 43,000 Jews during the final phase of World War II. A Thread of Grace puts a human face on history.

Praise for A Thread of Grace

“An addictive page-turner . . . [Mary Doria] Russell has an astonishing story to tell—full of action, paced like a rapid-fire thriller, in tense, vivid scenes that move with cinematic verve.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Hauntingly beautiful, utterly unforgettable.”—San Francisco Chronicle 

“Rich . . . Based on the heroism of ordinary people, [A Thread of Grace] packs an emotional punch.”—People 

“[A] deeply felt and compellingly written book . . . The progress of each character’s life is marked or measured by acts of grace. . . . Russell is a smart, passionate and imaginative writer.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer 

“A feat of storytelling . . . an important book [that] needs to be widely read.”—Portland Oregonian

“Mary Doria Russell’s fans (and aren’t we all?) will rejoice to see her new novel on the shelves. A Thread of Grace is as ambitious, beautiful, tense, and transforming as any of us could have hoped.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club

“A story of love and war, A Thread of Grace speaks to the resilience and beauty of the human spirit in the midst of unimaginable horror. It is, unquestionably, a literary triumph.”—David Morrell, author of The Brotherhood of the Rose and First Blood
Pearl is in charge of: the sad, the good, the past.

Stasha must care for: the funny, the future, the bad.

It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.

That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks -- a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin -- travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.

A superbly crafted story, told in a voice as exquisite as it is boundlessly original, Mischling defies every expectation, traversing one of the darkest moments in human history to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning, and soaring hope.

"One of the most harrowing, powerful, and imaginative books of the year"-Anthony Doerr about twin sisters fighting to survive the evils of World War II.

From the award-winning author of Easter Island comes a powerful, “unputdownable” (Vogue.com) novel of love, loss, and redemption amid the ruins of war-torn Italy.

1943: When seventeen-year-old Juliet Dufresne receives a cryptic letter from her enlisted brother and then discovers that he’s been reported missing in action, she lies about her age and travels to the front lines as an army nurse, determined to find him. Shy and awkward, Juliet is thrust into the bloody chaos of a field hospital, a sprawling encampment north of Rome where she forges new friendships and is increasingly consumed by the plight of her patients. One in particular, Christopher Barnaby, a deserter awaiting court martial, may hold the answer to her brother’s whereabouts—but the trauma of war has left him catatonic. Racing against the clock, Juliet works with an enigmatic young psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Willard, to break Barnaby’s silence before the authorities take him away. Plunged into the horrifying depths of one man’s memories of combat, Juliet and Willard together plumb the moral nuances of a so-called “just war” and face the dangers of their own deepening emotional connection.

In vibrant, arresting prose, Vanderbes tells the story of one girl’s fierce determination to find her brother as she comes of age in a time of unrelenting violence. An unforgettable war saga that captures the experiences of soldiers long after the battles have ended, The Secret of Raven Point is heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting: “The only disappointing thing about this book is that it has to end” (Library Journal, starred review).
I’ve been a problem baby, a lousy son, a distant brother, an off-putting neighbor, a piss-poor student, a worrisome seatmate, an unreliable employee, a bewildering lover, a frustrating confidante and a crappy husband. Among the things I do pretty well at this point I’d have to list darts, re-closing Stay-Fresh boxes, and staying out of the way.

This is the self-eulogy offered early on by the unwilling hero of the opening story in this collection, a dazzling array of work in short fiction from a master of the form. The stories in Love and Hydrogen—familiar to readers from publications ranging from McSweeney’s to The New Yorker to Harper’s to Tin House—encompass in theme and compassion what an ordinary writer would seem to need several lifetimes to imagine.

A frustrated wife makes use of an enterprising illegal-gun salesman to hold her husband hostage; two hapless adult-education students botch their attempts at rudimentary piano but succeed in a halting, awkward romance; a fascinated and murderous Creature welcomes the first human visitors to his Black Lagoon; and in the title story, the stupefyingly huge airship Hindenburg flies to its doom, representing in 1937 mankind's greatest yearning as well as its titanic failure.

Generous in scope and astonishing in ambition, Shepard’s voice never falters; the virtuosity of Love and Hydrogen cements his reputation as, in the words of Rick Bass, “a passionate writer with a razor-sharp wit and an elephantine heart”—in short, one of the most powerful talents at work today.
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