14-Year-Old Author Tells Story of Holocaust in Graphic Novel

Eighth-Grader Christopher Huh Debuts 'Keeping My Hope'

Keeping Hope Alive: Christopher Huh learned about the Holocaust in his 7th grade English class.
Courtesy of Christopher Huh
Keeping Hope Alive: Christopher Huh learned about the Holocaust in his 7th grade English class.

By Laura Moser

Published May 09, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Perhaps the most surprising detail about “Keeping My Hope,” a new, self-published graphic novel about the Holocaust, is its author: Christopher Huh is only 14 years old. The second most surprising detail is that he’s not even Jewish. He’s a second-generation Korean American from suburban Maryland who was only vaguely aware of the Holocaust before his seventh-grade English teacher led a unit on the subject.

Christopher’s class had been reading Hans Peter Richter’s Holocaust novel, “Friedrich.” “I was pretty shocked by what the teacher was telling us,” he told me when we met over lemonade at La Madeleine, near the Bethesda metro station. (Unlike Bethesda, Christopher’s hometown of Germantown doesn’t have a sizable Jewish population.) “I mean, I’d heard of the Holocaust before, but I didn’t know it was this extreme. I couldn’t believe some of the things I was hearing. But then when I looked around to see what other students were thinking, they weren’t really paying attention. They were just talking and chatting and not really listening.”

Christopher says he wanted to teach the Holocaust “in a different way.” He conceived of “Keeping My Hope” as a tool to introduce kids to the Holocaust: “I wanted the book to be easy to read, but I also wanted the subject to be taken seriously. I want people to realize that I can handle this stuff, and other kids can, too.”

From that point on, Christopher devoted himself wholeheartedly to his project. Though the characters and plot evolved as he worked, Christopher never doubted that “Keeping My Hope” would be a graphic novel. He’s been drawing for as long as he can remember. “Always with pencil,” said his mother, Yoon Huh. “Before he even started writing, he was drawing. But only in pencil — never crayons.”

“Keeping My Hope” draws on Christopher’s considerable talents both as an artist and as a storyteller. It begins with a grandfather in something like contemporary America telling his granddaughter about his childhood in Lomza, Poland, before the war. The main character’s name is Ari, which Christopher chose “because it means lion, strength. I chose that name and set it up as I did so that people would know that he survives.”

Christopher estimates that he spent more than 1,000 hours researching the events narrated in Ari’s story, and indeed he crams quite a lot of history into the novel’s 170 pages of black-and-white drawings: from the first glimmerings of anti-Semitism to the Soviet occupation of 1939, then the ghetto, the liquidation of the ghetto and the transport to Auschwitz. A good half of the book is devoted to Ari’s time at Auschwitz, which ends with the death march that kills his last remaining friends.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.