Marie-Laure is a blind girl who lives in Paris while WWII blazes over the continent. Werner is a German orphan who wishes to escape a future working in the mines his father died in. Marie-Laure flees to the walled city of Saint-Malo. Werner is forced into the German war machine.
I had been thinking about reading this novel for sometime. I actually put it off because of it being a Pulitzer Prize book. The other Pulitzer novels I read, ‘The Known World’ and ‘The Goldfinch’ I really did not enjoy .
For this novel, I will start off by agreeing with other reviews that say parts of the story are somewhat slow moving and that the back and forth timeline can be confusing. I found the fine details helped me to understand what Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives were truly like. The alternating POV, while somewhat confusing, helped to build the suspense of the storyline. This novel is very heavy in descriptions. You can almost hear the subtle sounds that Marie-Laure hears and how her mind turns them into images.
Until you read this book, it is difficult to understand what a blind girl in occupied France or even a sixteen year old boy sent to war must have gone through. Though I have read many stories set in WWII , I find they all tell a different and unique view point (For example, I never knew the story of Saint-Malo before reading this novel). While the ‘Book Thief’ has a similar main character (German orphans during WWII) the stories and language are totally different. This novel’s prose was very poetic and beautiful where as the language of ‘The Book Thief’ is more gritty and gothic.
Some reviews I read for this novel, said that WWII is an overdone subject. I disagree. To me there can never be too many novels about WWII. The reason is that this is one of the most significant periods in history and effected billions of people. WWII is not that far removed from my generation but those that lived through the war are now almost gone. Future generations will only know what they read in books or on the internet about WWII. I truly want my children to know what past generations sacrificed so they could lead the life they now live.
I give it five stars.