"You Don't Get the Life That You Want, You Get the Life That You Get. ~Gidon Lev

 Read the break through, quirky, hopeful, and thoroughly inspirational story of the unusual life of a 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. One part memoir, one part travelogue, and one part history that you thought you knew, The True Adventures of Gidon Lev is a love letter to life.


"In this elegantly conceived memoir…is a remarkable tale of survival and unexpected kinship. A vitally important Holocaust story eruditely captured."

Kirkus Reviews (starred review, Best Books of 2020)

"...singularly compelling for the way the story is told from the viewpoints of the survivor and his late-life love; for its encompassing sweep that manages in just 300-odd pages to convey the story of a man within the vast context of Jewish and Israeli history; and for its gentle insights into all of the above."

The Jerusalem Post

"...an improbable love story --  of a man who had every reason to be bitter but instead fell in love with life. It is also the story of a late-life romance that will make you believe in happy-ever-after endings again. Read this wonderful book and you’ll fall in love too – with Gidon, with Julie, with the Jewish people and the nation they created out of the abyss. 

-Yossi Klein Halevi, author "Like Dreamers" and "Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor"

"....wonder of wonders, it is exactly through this tale, a tale with the Holocaust at its essence, that a new light is shed on Jewish possibility and purpose."

Rabbi Susan Silverman, author of "Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World"

"...a highly recommended memoir that rises above and beyond politics, Middle East history, or autobiography alike to reveal the path one man took to move beyond an incredibly difficult childhood of cruelty and oppression.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

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.

Dr. Anna Scanlon, Holocaust History University of Leicester

"The True Adventures of Gidon Lev’ is a first-class biography of a remarkable man. It is also an important work that lends a great deal of humanity and understanding to the canon of testimonies and historical treatises documenting one of the darkest episodes of human history.
Alex Pearl, Author of "Sleeping with the Blackbirds" and "The Chair Man"

"Pandemic life is tricky for so many of us and it's easy to become sniffy, negative, and cynical, then you read a book like this - a shining beacon of hope, triumph and love. This is not how I ever thought I'd describe a book about a holocaust survivor, but the subject of this book, Gidon Lev, is so much more that that -and so is his life story. It is an uplifting tale of humanity and love, it's a story about embracing your life and your opportunities. Part historical document, part love story and all authentic - it's a beautiful book and needs to be read now more than ever."

Zee Zom, UK Amazon

"Incredible collaboration of Julie Gray and Gidon to tell Gidon's story, and the story of his family and his generation. By re-visiting the main settings of his life, exploring his feelings as memories came back to him, Julie added another dimension to Gidon's original scribblings. This is an amazing work. I am not Jewish, was never persecuted way he was, but I also share some of the other difficulties he faced. It made me realize that it is possible to thrive in spite of whatever bad things life throws at you. I read this book in two sittings, and give it a full five stars."

David Paulson

"A very important, if not landmark book extremely well done."

Bede, Kirkus Reviews

"The True Adventures of Gidon Lev is a complex, multi-layered work full of detailed historical description, implied warnings for the failure to learn from history, and a promise that from the deepest adversity can spring recovery, growth and the strongest love. But it also asks a worrying question. As Gray says of Lev:

“I suddenly, completely understood why people sometimes do this to Gidon: cry, ask to hug him, take his photo. Survivors are the embodiment, the proof of such things that we cannot imagine. What will happen when none are left?”

Andy Lewis, Goodreads


Read more about Gidon at Humans of the Holocaust

Over 2.3 million people are incarcerated in the United States.  Prison libraries and social services are grossly underfunded and many prisoners fall prey to white supremacist and other toxic ideologies. Won't you please donate a copy of The True Adventures to someone behind bars to help educate and inspire them? HERE'S HOW. 

“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 love.”

Foreword Clarion Reviews


 “Author Julie Gray gives voice to Gidon Lev’s story of resilience and hope in this uplifting portrait of Holocaust survival. …readers will find Gidon’s story an inviting, eye-opening look at an important chapter in Jewish history.

Blue Ink Review