This Pulitzer Prize-winning World War II novel tells the story of a blind French teen, a young German soldier, and how they come together during the war in occupied France. This is a book to be read slowly to fully appreciate the rich descriptions and sensory-laden language. Almost all of the characters in this book--even the villains--are fully drawn as complicated humans.
What I love about it, though, is how Doerr makes the experience of war personal. While the war was global, each person who lived and died experienced it through the small moments made large through their own senses: a girl finds refuge running her hands across the snails lining a grotto; a boy closes his eyes and visualizes the electrons allowing the voices to carry over the airwaves; an old woman whispers a few words to sustain a resistance, finding the only power she has. There are millions of these stories, many forever lost, and Doerr's telling is a reminder that wars aren't just history, but personal and deeply felt.
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From the publisher’s description:
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.