Sunday, July 6, 2014

I Really Wanted to Appreciate This Book

I just finished Uri Orlev's novel Run, Boy, Run. It relates the true (yet partially fictionalized) account of a young Jewish boy who fights to survive during WWII against all odds.
Being fairly well-versed in Holocaust literature and memoirs, I understand that many survivors have seemingly impossible stories. Impossible because of the depths of evil that occurred and impossible because of the strength, courage, and perseverance of others. Yet these events did occur, and it's important that the world does not forget.
This is where I felt disappointed with the book. It has the abstract feeling of inauthenticity. It just doesn't quite ring true, and I feel like this does a disservice to the very real survivor depicted in the novel. I understand that some holes in the story must be filled in with the best information possible, but I don't feel that this has been seamlessly done here. Maybe I've been spoiled by Erik Larson.
Here's the problem: Goodreads tells me I'm wrong. People love this book. Am I judging it too harshly against the more mature literature I usually read? This book is clearly geared toward middle-schoolers. I think they would be enthralled and able to relate (on some levels) to the story's protagonist. If this is a gentler introduction to the horrors of the Holocaust, isn't that a good thing? The book also provides an alternate story of pain and loss not centered on a death camp. I do respect this focus on a different aspect of the realities of war.
Ultimately, I recommend this book for young adult audiences, preferably with a knowledgeable adult with whom to discuss the history behind the book.

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