I attend a lot of previews where publishers present their upcoming titles. Typically, one will catch my eye, and I will paw through my advance reading copies to find it later. This happened with THE BOY ON THE WOODEN BOX by Leon Leyson. A few weeks ago, I heard on the news that a copy of Schindler’s List was being auctioned on eBay with an opening bid of $3 million. It made me think about the people whose names were on that list. THE BOY ON THE WOODEN BOX is a memoir by one of the youngest people to be saved by Schindler. I literally sat and read it in one sitting. It’s being published for children, but it’s the kind of book that can be read at any age.
Leon lived through the horrors of the war, with his pluck and his hope intact. As his editor shared with me in a note, there is an “honesty and pure spirit behind Leon’s telling. There is a grace there, a straightforward manner to the way he unfolded his story that held no room for hyperbole, no room for rancor. He knew the bigger story was about the possibility of hope, the possibility of change, the possibility in every person to go further than they think they ever can to help someone else.” Leon did not share his story for years and then became a public speaker about his experiences late in life. Sadly, he passed away in January before the book was finished; his wife and a friend took up the mantle to fill in the missing pieces.
Reading it, I found myself thinking about what it would have been like if Anne Frank had lived and been able to talk about her diary entries. The story here is vivid, and just when you think all hope must be lost, Leon again gives you a moment of joy. I would have loved to have met him!