Author: Anthony Doerr
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction
Length: 530 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: May 2014
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book was beautiful. Historical fiction always fascinates me, particularly that surrounding WWII. There is so much pain and horror in war, but also lines of underlying goodness. This book was a beautiful combination of those two things. The horror was there, but so was the beauty.
The story follows two main characters Marie-Laure, a bling french girl living with her great uncle in Saint-Malo France, and Werner, a brilliant young German orphan who is taken into the German military at a young age because of his skill with radios. There are many side characters that are connected to these two central characters in some way.
Perhaps the thing that I loved most about this book was how it was sectioned off. It starts with a bombing in 1944 only to jump back ten years. Then it alternates between the present (1944) and the years leading up to this one big event. This was so brilliantly done and I loved it. You're thrown into the story with very little knowledge about the characters, who they are, what they are after, anything, and as the story jumps from past to present you start to piece together each of their stories. You also start to realize how they are all connected, because they are. Every single one of them.
The story is told through images and metaphors, beautifully pieced together into a whole. There is heartbreak, horror, pain, devastation, and beauty. Imagine anything you can about a war and this book gives you a piece of it. It tears apart lives, destroys families, flattens entire countries. But there is beauty through the pain. You see how people change and influence each other for good as well as bad. And the journey is magnificent.
The story and narrative style may not appeal to all readers, but I would highly recommend this book. It was beautiful, emotional, heart-wrenching, heartwarming, and devastating all at once. If you've even thought about reading this, then stop thinking and do it.