Many, many thanks to Net Galley and Scribner for the advanced reader's copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
This novel will be published on May 6, 2014.
Book synopsis(via Goodreads):
Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
This insomniac's opinion:
If you are new to my blog, you may not know that I have a weird-ahem, unique- fascination with books that take place in the period during World War II. Not because of a fascination with war itself, but because of the incredible acts of bravery and kindness that happen amidst the violence and desperation. But, I digress- on to the novel.
I fell in love with Marie Laure right at the beginning. She is so beautifully kind and sweet soul. Her relationship with her father was also incredibly beautiful. I dreaded the knowledge that the war was coming and their lives would soon change.
Werner was not quite as loveable, but, as a reader, I found myself inexplicably understanding why he ended up as a soldier and made the choices that he did. It was an eye into the mind of an orphan who desperately wanted to belong and would even become a Nazi killer to do so.
This novel chewed up and spit out my heart over and over again with its quiet desperation and connections between people amongst the horror of war. There is a moment near the end between Werner and Marie Laure that was a pure balm on my sorrowed heart. It was, perhaps, the most sadly beautiful moment in a novel full of beautiful moments.
The ending was slow-moving and appropriate for a novel regarding war. Too many novels that take place in war-time button up the endings with sugar sweet happenings and the reader is left with a feeling that all is right in the world again. Not this novel. It reminded the reader that even many, many years after the war had ended, those who survived the war will be haunted and will take those egregious memories and happenings to their graves.
This novel was incredibly moving and compulsively readable with characters that will live in your heart forever.This was my first 5 star novel of 2014 and I will not soon forget it or the characters in it. Kudos to the author- I look forward to reading more of his work!
Worth staying up all night to read?
5 great, big shining stars!