(page 2 of 2)
Christopher did the bulk of his research on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website, using its easily searchable survivor interviews, documentaries and historical background for the different events he chronicles. “You just type ‘Death March’ in the search bar, and a lot of survivors’ stories come up,” he said. He also visited the museum in person twice, and last summer he went to a synagogue in Potomac, Md., near his home. “They were very happy and supportive of the project,” he said. “I even met an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor who went to the temple.”
Christopher, who plays piano and viola, listened to Itzhak Perlman’s CD of klezmer music constantly while he worked on the book, which took him about a year to write.
“He spent a couple of hours a day, every day,” Yoon Huh said. “He was very disciplined. I was always driving him to the library so he could get more books.”
When asked if this single-minded commitment to the book affected his schoolwork, Christopher shook his head. “I still got all my work done and got A’s in all my classes,” he said. “I wanted to dedicate all my time to the book, but I wasn’t falling asleep in class or anything.”
Christopher said that reactions from his peers have been overwhelmingly positive: “I was really happy when some of my classmates have come up to me and asked to buy the book. Even people I don’t know have come up to me and said what a good book it is.” His teachers have also been supportive, he said, especially the seventh-grade English teacher who introduced him to the Holocaust.
“They call him ‘Author Boy’ at school,” his mom added proudly.
“I want to make sure ‘Keeping My Hope’ gets into Maryland’s reading curriculum,” Christopher said. “I’d like it to be in every public library in America. Some people just have no idea what the Holocaust is, and I think ‘Keeping My Hope’ is a good way of summing up what happened through one eyewitness account.”
“I’d like to earn enough money from the book to make a trip to Auschwitz and visit places like Warsaw that I researched.”
Laura Moser is a writer living in Washington, D.C.