Review Blog

Jan 02 2014

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson, with Marilyn J. Harran and Elizabeth B. Leyson

cover image

Simon & Schuster, 2013. ISBN 9781471119675.
For all ages. This book is a memoir, recollecting the author's experiences over a period of years. Encouraged by his wife and a publishing friend, Leon Leyson decided to tell his story.  As a Jewish boy of fifteen years, he and his family were rounded up by Nazis and placed in unbearable circumstances; at times separated from each other, suffering hunger, exhaustion and extreme neglect and hatred. Oskar Schindler thought this young boy's life was of value and went to great lengths to ensure the survival of most of his family members. Leon was given a box to stand on as he worked in Schindler's factory.
The Prologue introduces the reader to Leon in 1965 when he meets his saviour before taking us to earlier, happy times when Leon is growing up in a rural village in north-eastern Poland before moving to Krakow. The youngest of five children, Leon describes his parents and siblings with great warmth and affection, and informs the reader about life in Poland at the time. When war comes, the Poles are confident that the allied forces will stop the invading Germans, but hopes are dashed on 6 September, 1939, when, less than a week after crossing the border into Poland, the enemy troops arrive in Krakow. The years of hell had begun for Leon and his family.
Obviously the subject of this book is confronting, but the innocence of Leyson's narration is very powerful and brings the story close to readers of any age.
Julie Wells

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