The way I choose books is to check the ‘related’ list on Amazon, inspired by the last book I’ve bought. The big shiny pulitzer price medal on the cover narrowed it down and the book was dropped into my kindle. It was a good gamble to take as the writing style resonated with me. The book had refreshing language set amidst some pretty dark circumstances. The juxtaposition of the two stirred a type of enjoyment in reading I hadn’t felt since high school. I’ve always been a fan of writing that helps you think about the situation or feeling in a different way, framing it with images that wouldn’t come to mind.
“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.”
The setting is World War II, and the story follows the lives of a German orphan boy, Werner, enlisted into the military and a blind french girl, Marie-Laure, daughter of a museum employee. The details of their situations stirred with the sparks of thought within their minds makes for an intriguing read. Other characters I really connected with were Frederick, another student in Werner’s class who valued his internal ethics and Volkheimer, a german soldier in the field with Werner, who served his country, doing as he was asked. Werner is really the balance between the two and how it tears at him is on of my favorite themes in the book.
“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”
Marie-Laure is the embodiment of courage, working within her means to inspire those around her as well as push the limits of her faith in herself.
“There is a humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That’s how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his lve for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane.”
The scenery and the settings were dissimilar to the repeated storyline footholds of most books I’ve read of late. They were rich and painted a detailed visage of each place in my mind.
“None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.”
I don’ want to ruin any of the story, and so I have to write vaguely. Each scene and character should be enjoyed through the exquisite writing of Doerr. The book is a big long, but never feels like it. It’ll be a quick read if only because you learn to love the characters and the desire to know the outcomes of their lives overpowers your ability to sleep.
I highly recommend this novel!