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The True Adventures of Gidon Lev

4.66  ·  Rating details ·  50 ratings  ·  33 reviews
From Prague to New York to California and back to Israel, The True Adventures of Gidon Lev is the moving story of an extraordinary Holocaust survivor and the writer who loved him. Of the 15,000 children in the Nazi concentration camp of Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic, fewer than 100 survived. Gidon Lev is one of those children. 

A quirky, inspirational story of hope,
Paperback, 334 pages
Published July 1st 2020 by Lightning Source
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Lori Kaufmann
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book defies classification - it’s part holocaust memoir, part love story and part history of the state of Israel. But it’s so much more in the same way that Gidon’s life is “so much more”. So much more of everything - of danger, heartache, joy and love. This is the story of a man who defied the odds and learned to embrace life.

The True Adventures of Gidon Lev grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go. Gidon’s incredible journey - from his childhood in a concentration camp to his late-in-lif
Alex Pearl
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Julie Gray’s biography of Gidon Lev who survived the horrors of the Theresienstadt concentration camp as a young boy and whose zest for life is inspirational is a captivating, well-drawn and warmly penned narrative that’s hard to put down. The book’s structure reminds me of another and very different biography written about Orson Welles by Barbara Leaming. Both books allow you to hear both the voice of the author and the personality themselves in candid conversation with the author. This double- ...more
Miriam Drori
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The True Adventures is an amazing book, unlike any other that I’ve read. It started out as an account of the full and unusual life of Gidon Lev, but very soon the author slotted into the story, as the two became, as Gray calls their relationship, “Loving Life Buddies.”

The subtitle for the book is: “Rascal. Holocaust Survivor. Optimist.” It tells you immediately that this read will be poignant and humorous. It might make you wonder: How can you have humour in a book about a Holocaust survivor? My
Judy Labensohn
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Writing one’s own memoir is hard enough, but to write someone else’s? How many would want to crawl into the thousands of notes and notebooks and piles of memories and dreams of another person and try to make order? Where to begin? When offered the task of helping Gidon Lev write his memoir of a childhood spent in a concentration camp during World War II and another seventy years of adventures in Brooklyn, Toronto and Israel, Julie Gray’s response was Thanks, but No Thanks. Gray eventually succum ...more
Linda Maxie
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've always sympathized with the Jewish people. But honestly, throughout my entire life (I'm 58), I have met very few of them. Two, I met in high school, but as they were not in my grade, and I had no shared classes with either. They were popular kids and I was shy. I met one other Jewish student in college, but even though we took a three-week May in England class together, we never became friends.

So I was curious when I picked up this book. Julie Gray befriends, then loves, the subject of the
Kathy Altaras
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Julie Gray’s quest to honor the life of Gidon Lev is an ambitious attempt to capture the life and spirit of this remarkable man with a journalist’s tenacity to put names, places, and dates to his experiences. She smoothly interweaves his incomprehensible past into the man he is today – a survivor, a role model, a humorist, and a citizen of the country he loves and is proud of.
For me, the fascination of this book lies in her ability to bring Gidon to life through his own words. The insertion of
Kariann Farrey
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
[Disclosure: I was gifted a copy of this book by the authors in exchange for an honest review. (I also was one of several volunteers who transcribed some of Gidon Lev’s handwritten notes.) I’m so delighted with the end result.]

It’s hard to know where to begin to describe this book, except to say it is beautiful. Simply beautiful. Julie Gray, herself a part of this story, takes an objective stance while telling the rich tale of Gidon Lev, who becomes her “Loving Life Buddy” as the project to shar
Sigalith Isaac
Should win the Goodreads Choice awards in its category ..
Liane Wakabayashi
Imagine agreeing to help a Holocaust survivor take a lifetime of notes and memories and turn them into a gripping memoir. Well, many have done that. But how many can actually say that they've fallen in love with their elderly protagonist? This is precisely what happened to Julie Gray and Gidon Lev, a charming couple with all the quirks and asymmetries that go along with their 30 year age gap. Yet instead of trying to eradicate or deny that gap, the two celebrate it in a memoir that defies simple ...more
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is really two memoirs in one--the primary story of Gidon Lev, a Holocaust survivor with an indomitable spirit who became an ardent kibbutznik in Israel in the late 1950s, and his "accidental" ghostwriter and editor Julie Gray, who moved to Israel in 2002 as a convert to Judaism. Gray never loses the focus on Gidon Lev, yet she is on a discovery path right alongside him as the two of them retrace much of Lev's personal history, including traveling back to his home village of Karlovy Vary in ...more
Sam Sattler
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
Gidon Lev is an ordinary man who, because of the circumstances of his birth, has lived a truly extraordinary life. That he is even alive to tell us about it today, is perhaps the most amazing thing of all about him because Gidon had no business even surviving his childhood. His adventures began in 1941, when as a six-year-old child, Gidon was transported along with his mother and grandfather to Térézin, a German concentration camp some 30 miles north of Prague. He would still be there at the end ...more
Julie Gray
Sep 10, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
"In this elegantly conceived a remarkable tale of survival and unexpected kinship. A vitally important Holocaust story eruditely captured."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Inventively structured and impeccably written, THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF GIDON LEV is a must-read book for anyone interested in Holocaust narratives.”
IndieReader (five-star review)

“…the compelling biography of a Holocaust survivor who attests that human beings are capable of both incredible evil and transcendent lo
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The beginnings of Gidon's story are unfortunately not unique. Millions suffered the horrors of the Holocaust, and though a much smaller number survived, he is certainly one amongst many. However, as his loving buddy and co-author Julie makes clear, his attitude to life since is one which has much to teach us. Some reacted to the Holocaust by withdrawing, some spend or spent their lives living every action as an act of defiance, "a stick in Hitler's eye", but Gidon has overcome by being a pure lo ...more
Alexandra David
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very touching and moving book, which had me in or near tears on more than one occasion. My first thoughts upon finishing were: What an amazing man Gidon is. How incredibly lucky Julie and Gidon are to have found each other and lastly, what a most beautiful and innovative way of writing this story. It reads like a perfectly tuned piano duet.
By interspersing the past and the present, historical facts and individual anecdotes, the tragic and the comic, Julie’s version and Gidon’s version and cor
Mark Kapner
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Julie Gray successfully wears many hats as she chronicles the life and adventures of Gidon Lev, her LLB (Loving Life Buddy), as she refers to him. She is alternately Gidon's biographer, interviewer, companion, editor, writing coach, and admirer, as she both gets his incredible story down on paper and infuses the process with love and caring. The book has liberal passages in Gidon Lev's own words, as well as wonderful explanations of the difficulties inherent in the process of remembering and ver ...more
Carol Avery
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of meeting both Julie (my good friend's daughter) and Gidon Lev last year and then to spend time in Europe with Julie (what enthusiasm and friendliness; a great traveling companion and bolsterer of spirits) and then to spend about a week in Israel with both of them. Gidon is most remarkable; I'm hard put to sum him up, but his spirits, enthusiasm, patience and humor seem endless. I had some trepidation about this book because a draf ...more
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is no ordinary biography of a Holocaust survivor. This is a complex story told in a complex manner that makes you pay extra attention, want to learn more, and reflect on today’s world situation. Gidon’s story is told through the prism of Julie’s life-changing move to Israel. The technique of inserting his words into her narrative is interesting but I finished the book wondering what happened during some very large chunks of time. The book sometimes runs the risk of coming off as more about ...more
Anna Scanlon
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up whilst working with Gidon and Julie on a project about Gidon's life, and was pleasantly surprised at the depth of this book. While many survivors only focus on the Holocaust (which is natural, of course, it is a defining moment in their lives), Gidon's book helps frame survivors in a different light: people who despite everything went on to live full lives after the war. Gidon's lively and complex personality shines through. While his partner, Julie, shows his beautiful qua ...more
Randy Kurtzman
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hello all! I just finished reading this book last night. All I can say is thank you to the authors for writing it. Being Jewish I was taught about the Holocaust in Sunday School and at the Temple. I also heard many survivors that came to talk to us about it. Not one of them approached the lasting effects that it had on them, just repeating the same things that I had read and been told. I now understand that aspect with so much more clarity. I truly feel that everyone would benefit greatly from r ...more
Meaghan Hurn
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gideon Lev was one of 92 children who survived the camp at Terezin and even as an 86 year-old
Holocaust survivor, he cherishes life. Instead of harboring bitterness and anger, he approaches life as if he's still in his 20's and the world is his oyster with boundless adventures still waiting (which I believe is true no matter your age!).

The author, Julie Gray, is on an honorable quest to capture the spirit of this courageous and rare gem of a person, putting names, places and dates to his life ex
Gayle Skolky
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The last of the survivors of the Holocaust need to tell their stories. I have read many of them and find this one to be unique. Gidon Lev's story is told by his Loving Life Buddy Julie Gray who has met him late in his life. She has woven together her research with Gidon's experience and a history lesson of the state of Israel. You will come away sharing Gidon's cathartic experience while feeling you are on a tour of Israel. ...more
Elaine Goldstein
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved the way this book is organized-Gidon remembers, and Julie explains the history around the incidents.
I found the book interesting- I don't think it's 'just another holocaust book' because of the way it's written. It's not full of sorrow, but joy at what life has brought afterwards.
I learned something new in each chapter, and when I looked at the website I learned even more about all the people who contributed to the creation of this wonderful story.
I highly recommend it
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading this book. All I can say is, wow! It is a memoir to be proud of. I laughed, I cried, I got mad, I got happy, it touched all the bases and at the same time never departed from its charm and its sincerity. I felt I really knew Julie Gray and Gidon.
The True Adventures of Gidon Lev proves what we all want to see in life: that love comes in many forms, it doesn't judge, and it can happen at any age.

If you have not read this book - DO.
Kelli Reinhardt
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The True, and truly inspiring, Adventures...

This book is a testament to the human spirit, to determination and to the power of love. I found Gidon’s account of Holocaust survival as a child especially moving, and his witness to the full spectrum of the post-WWII Jewish experience is one worth exploring. Couldn’t put it down!
Flávio Miguel  Pereira
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are few stories of Holocaust survivors or freedom fighters and this one is more one to the package of them. Gidon Lev have now to conquer more than to fight but it's a good fight review by Julie. Im still finishing it but for what i have read it's something to be told louder. ...more
Ondine Sherman
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Julie is a wonderful writer and has taken a difficult subject and added warmth and humour. Gidon's life story is a fascinating one and I enjoyed going on this journey with him, through Julie's eyes. There are many lessons to be learned from this remarkable man. ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, book-club-read
`This was not a typical memoir by any means. Gidon has been through so much, even after living through the Holocaust, and yet he still keeps a good sense of humor. I enjoyed how the story developed and there was the interaction between Gidon and Julie throughout as he would add or update aspects to his story. Told by Julie with parts quoted from Gidon made the book flow. I also appreciated the added interview at the end between the two. As a reader of many Holocaust books, this one went further ...more
Skillfully written with just enough explanations for those who might not be familiar with the Holocaust, historical events and chronology, Israeli culture, and Jewish traditions. Considering the tragic events that informed Gidon Lev's childhood and the relationship difficulties he experienced as an adult, Gidon lives up to the claim that he never lost his optimism and desire to live life to the fullest. Julie Gray does a great job of shaping the story and building the structure, allowing much in ...more
Sarah Williams
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an unexpected joy. Although it’s hard to imagine that a book with a personal and tragic Holocaust story at its core could lift the heart, Julie Gray and Gidon Lev have pulled it off……and with a panache that reflects their own transparent joie de vivre. This book is a glorious Matryoshka doll of a biography, combining in an authentic way the powerful memories of Lev, Gray’s perspectives on those memories, Lev’s experience of seeing his stories through the eyes of his biographer and l ...more
Andy Lewis
This book does not merely tell the story of Holocaust survivor Gidon Lev, it does far more than that. In fact, this book tells at least three stories. Firstly, it documents the devastating effects of the Holocaust on one life, in itself an astonishing piece of historical testament. Secondly, it places that life in the wider context of the Second World War, setting Lev’s heartbreaking story against the tableau of creeping Nazi anti-semitic policy and the fear and confusion it wrought on an unsusp ...more
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Julie Gray is a developmental editor and native Californian living in Tel Aviv. Her book, The True Adventures of Gidon Lev was one of the Kirkus Review's Best Books of 2020. Julie appreciates a good gin and tonic and loves Middle Eastern food, which is convenient, given her location. She's currently writing "They Do Things Differently Here," a memoir about making the move from Hollywood to Israel ...more

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