The Man in the Box

Thomas Moran, Author Riverhead Books $21.95 (260p) ISBN 978-1-57322-060-6
With gentle and unflinching emotional honesty, this first novel by New York journalist Moran concerns a 13-year-old boy who must care for a Jew-""the man in the box""-his father hides from the Nazis. In the midst of neighbors and friends in his Austrian village who may or may not know his secret, young Niki Lukasser must learn to do the extraordinary while burdened with an ordinary, conflicted heart. When Dr. Robert Weiss unexpectedly appears on the Lukasser doorstep one day in 1943, the family is faced with a request that is difficult to refuse. Weiss saved the life of Niki, their only child, several years earlier and now is pleading that the favor be returned. After Niki's father briefly weighs ""whether the debt he has incurred was heavy enough for the payment that now seemed to be required,"" he seals Weiss into a tiny hidden room he has built in the loft of his barn. During the ensuing two years, Weiss's physical and emotional survival become the responsibility of Niki and his first love, Sigi, a blind girl. Though a tale of Holocaust survival, this is also the story of many friendships: between a worldly doctor and the bewildered children who tend to him yet look to him for guidance; between a sensitive young man and a perceptive young woman yearning to discover themselves; and among the sometimes stoic, sometimes irrational villagers, who have known each other all their lives. Although he can be pretentiously philosophical at times, Moran is a sophisticated storyteller who subtly explores the way ordinary people, even children, are capable of both good and evil, betrayal and sacrifice. BOMC and QPB alternate selection. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Hardcover - 309 pages - 978-0-7838-8123-2
Paperback - 978-1-57322-663-9
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-1-57322-649-3
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