Author: Anthony Doerr
Release date: May 6, 2014
Published by: Schriber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Marie-Laure living in Paris, France, with her loving father and surrounded by museum lives a life filled with fascinating knowledge. Werner living in a German mining town with his sister, the other orphans in his home and the women who cares for them lives without much but still manages to teach himself advanced mathematics and electrical engineering at a very young age. When the Nazis begin to enflame Germany, and then move on to Russia, Austria, France and even further Werner is swept up into the Nazi Youth program. Marie-Laure and her father leave Paris for her uncle's village on the sea just ahead of the Nazi's moving in and taking over. As each works at figuring out their place in their new worlds, they both can't wait for them to go back to normal again...but will they?
My thoughts: This was a fascinating read filled with so much imagination mixed together with the actual facts from history of that seaside town, of the Hitler Youth, and so much more. What a cool idea! This was a book club pick which is why I read it in case you're wondering why I chose something so out of my normal reading, and boy am I glad I did. I'm always very honest with people, and especially with my book club, about the fact that I have a hard time reading "adult" books. I find them boring. Clive Cussler is about the only "must read" adult author I've found. I also do not look very hard obviously since I'm a middle school and high school librarian and reading Young Adult books works perfectly with my job. Plus, I love them! I love for them! So I'm always pleasantly surprised when an Adult book actually keeps me interested the whole way through it.
One thing that was very different from books I've read was how Doerr does not tell the story in a linear timeline. I was really glad that I was reading a hardcover copy instead of reading it as an eBook with having many different sections where the plot is taking place in a different year. I found myself flipping back to the section before to see what year I had just finished reading each time I got to a new one to get my head in the right place. It took a little while but I got used to it.
The other element that was interesting is that you are reading multiple points-of-view. Sometimes it's Marie-Laure, then Werner, then a treasure seeking Nazi, etc. This I didn't have a hard time with since each time it switches it's set up like a separate chapter with that person's name so you know who's speaking then. I rather liked it honestly.
This story was so vast and intricate. I kept wondering how in the world did he keep track of all of this!? He must have had some sort of system that was just incredible. The mixture of factual history and fiction were so well done that I felt that I learned quite a bit about different aspects of their experiences as well. It's very obvious why this won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction last year!
Final thoughts: If you have an interest in history at all, then this is for you! Or, if you like to read about different peoples lives as they struggle through life issues, then this is for you! There's even quite a bit about natural history and the technology that goes into the hand-held radios they used in WWII, as well as some serious math that Werner teaches himself (Wow!). I recommend that anyone gives it a try, and would say that anyone 8th or 9th grade on up would enjoy it.
Check out this video of the author talking about how he came up with his story...
Have you already read this one!? What did you think?