Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Rona Arato

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Rona Arato

The WAR Series: Writers As Readers gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Today we welcome Rona Arato, the author of The Last Train: A Holocaust Story (OWLkids). The book follows the true story of brothers Paul and Oscar Arato and their mother. After surviving imprisonment in the infamous Bergen Belsen camp, the brothers grow up and look back on the past and their experiences. A difficult and important book, The Last Train examines a harrowing period of modern history from the point of view of young people at the time, and the lasting effects of that era.

Read on to hear from Rona about the book that can still make her cry, which movie adaptation superseded its originating book for her and what's up next on her reading list.
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The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
I have always been a bookworm so I don’t remember any one book.

A book that made me cry:
Little Women. I cried buckets when Beth died.

The first adult book I read:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This is an amazing story of a family surviving through bad times and staying together. It’s a coming of age story. I recently re-read it and loved it as much as I did as a young girl.

A book that made me laugh out loud:
Heartburn by Nora Ephron.

The book I have re-read many times:
Little Women. I’ve enjoyed it on different levels as I got older. I love this book for its characters and depiction of family life. I always related to Jo because she became a writer. And I still cry when Beth dies.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
Life of Pi. I saw the film and loved it. Now I’ll probably never read the book.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:
I have to say A Tree Grows in Brooklyn because it is such a good read and gives a great picture of life in New York around the turn of the century. And, did I mention I was born in Brooklyn? So there’s a bit of nostalgia at work here.

The best book I read in the past six months:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It’s psychological study wrapped in a mystery that kept me turning pages late into the night.

The book I plan on reading next:
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje.

A possible title for my autobiography:
Aggravation is a Way of Life. I’ve always thought that would be a cool title because, that’s what happens and we learn to live with it.


Rona Arato is a children’s author with a strong interest in human rights. As a writer and editor for over twenty years, she has written on a wide variety of subjects including education, business, travel, fashion and Internet technology. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers all over the world and her books include Fossils, Clues to Ancient Life and World of Water, Ice Cream Town, Working for Freedom: The Story of Josiah Henson, Making a Difference and Design It!.

For more information about The Last Train please visit the OWLkids website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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