Set during World War II in Brittany, Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winner is a gem of a novel, relating the tale of two young protagonists who fight for survival.
Marie-Laure is a twelve year old blind girl who leaves Paris with her father to the coastal town of St. Malo. Surrounded by a caring community and an anxiety ridden great-uncle, the girl is the recipient of many kindnesses (ie, light). Her father lovingly crafts a model of the town to help her “see,” and she also received a large braille version of Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea which helps her escape from her war-torn reality. Even her Uncle faces his fears in order to protect her, when Marie’s father is arrested.
In Germany, an orphaned boy (Werner) also has moments of light. As a young boy, he becomes fascinated with science as a result of radio broadcasts from France. He desperately wants to escape a life in the mines, and is able to when his scientific aptitude sends him to a special school for Hitler Youth. Eventually he is sent to war and Werner realizes that everything he was taught at the school was wrong. That the bravest among his classmates was not among the boys who did as they were told, but those who dared to resist.
I loved the metaphors throughout this novel, and the connection that Werner and Marie-Laure share. Beautifully written!
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2014