Good Reads Review: The Happiest Man On Earth by Eddie Jaku
**mild spoilers ahead**
There are many stories about the Holocaust, filled with desperation and a feeling of human beings at their lowest. However, that is not the case for this beautiful story written by centenarian Eddie Jaku.
Rather than beat you over the head, Eddie's personal retelling of his incredible life reinforces a valuable lesson that we struggle to remember sometimes: that life is an incredible, precious gift that should be spent making other's lives better.
Telling the story of growing up in Europe during the rise of Nazism, Jaku's beautiful prose really makes you feel like you are there with him as he experiences it, while at the same time is filled with mirth and experience from his age. Even when he talks of the darkest moments in his time in Auschwitz - Buchenwald, his focus is on what keeps him alive: his friends, the small comforts, his skills, and his hope to push through to the end. His love and mirth on the page really shines through, and makes want to read on, so much so that the book actually flies by!
The subject matter can be difficult to swallow, and some people may reject stories like this out of a desire to not be lectured to about history, or because of the dark nature of the subject matter. In this instance though, I honestly urge you to read it, because it's resonate themes and Eddie's kindness really shines through, telling an intensely personal story in one of histories darkest moments.
It becomes especially emotional near the end, as Eddie tells the story of how he became involved with the Sydney Jewish Museum, and how he became a powerful educator around preserving the memory of those lost.
Eddie's mantra that "Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you" is a very apt theme for this story. Keep the tissues close, and hold on. This is a story about a beautiful man that you will be proud to call a friend by the final page.
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