A few years ago I received a surreal phone call telling me there had been a murder. Whaaaat? A crate had been discovered. It had been hidden on our property. We opened it. And nothing could have prepared us for the horror inside.
My first book, The Crate: A Story of War, a Murder, and Justice, is not a book I expected to write. I live an ordinary little life in Connecticut as a publicist, wife and mother. I always imagined writing a romance, maybe, or even a historical fiction, since that’s my favorite genre to read. From my little bubble, I never thought I’d be telling the true story of a violent crime that rocked my family.
The discovery of the crate left us reeling. Those first days after opening the crate were filled with panic and confusion. Had we been targeted in some way? We felt an enormous sense of violation. Our property became a crime scene. It was all over the media. I had three young children I wanted to shield, and my husband and I were totally freaked out.
But more than anything, the discovery traumatized my parents. Their sense of safety – of having found sanctuary at last – had shattered.
You see, my parents survived the Holocaust, and the discovery of the crate, with its grisly contents, dredged up all the terrible memories of their past: of concentration camps, of death marches, of starving in ghettos. We never thought we’d encounter that kind of evil – the kind that crossed the line from civilized society to barbarism, the kind that suffused my family’s experiences in Eastern Europe – again. But what we found inside the crate told us that people could be butchers, indeed. The lessons of history had not succeeded in diminishing the human impulse toward evil.
As a family, we were devastated, and our beloved property, defiled.
I needed to make sense of all this. Then it hit me: everything we were feeling after the discovery of the crate – the violation, the anger, the fear – all of it paled in comparison to what the victim’s family must have been going through.
It’s been a long time coming, but now, millions of people who have endured abuse finally have a forum through which to tell the world their stories: the #MeToo movement, and many other global platforms like it. The media is paying attention. The courts are paying attention. At last, people are speaking up, and they are being heard.
But what about the souls who have been silenced forever, those who have been reduced to statistics? The victims of violence who no longer can speak for themselves?
After the discovery of the crime, I realized I could lend a voice. How could I not write this book?
I think the themes of The Crate resonate today more than ever: of refugees and the need for sanctuary. Of leaving behind loved ones and struggling to make a fresh start in a new land. Of domestic violence and racial hatred. Of fate, and destiny, and the need to illuminate our stories.
Most of all, The Crate examines our seemingly limitless capacity for evil… but also, our capacity for good.
The memory of this victim deserves to be honored. And so do the memories of my parents from the Holocaust. As a writer, I feel obligated to preserve these stories so that they will not be forgotten.
The Crate: A Story of War, a Murder, and Justice will be available for purchase on June 19th.
ABOUT AUTHOR DEBORAH VADAS LEVISON
Deborah Levison’s life has two parts: the first in Canada, where she attended the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto, and the second in the United States, where she’s lived for 20 years.
She’s an award-winning writer, published in national and international media. Her first book, a true crime story with echoes of the Holocaust, is The Crate: A Story of War, a Murder, and Justice, which was just named a Finalist by the 2018 International Book Awards. She shares a home in Connecticut with her husband, three children, and a doodle named Moose.Visit her at www.debbielevison.com