I read a lot of books and I have read a lot of books. When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I went through a historical fiction phase. I remember reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, which by the way is an incredible read, for a book project and it jump started my obsession for all things historical fiction. Due to that, I am now very picky about historical fiction because at some point, it all seems to be the same book with different characters. After all, history doesn’t change.
It is so very rarely that I find a book that I am completely astounded by, but Anthony Doerr managed to make my eyes water by the time I flipped to the last page. Honestly, I could not find a single flaw in this book, and I pride myself in being able to very critical of even the very best books and finding flaws. But alas, every once in awhile a book comes along that manages to escape even my critical eye. *sigh*
There is only one word to sum up the entire book: captivating. The characters and the descriptions were absolutely captivating. Marie Laure-LeBlanc is a blind girl with a completely unique perspective on the world. Through her smell, taste, hearing, and touch I was able to experience World War II in a way that the history books just cannot convey. Through her, the war is almost a distant thrum, a soft memory. On the other hand, Werner Pfennig is a part of the hard, military group that Hitler wanted running the world. I see the cruel, harsh parts of the war that I am accustomed to reading about, but Doerr dilutes the harshness with one simple thing; the fact that Werner is a child. Both the protagonists are children, allowing me as the reader to imagine what World War II must have been like for a child. But, though the kids were living through a horrific war, they were still kids, and I was immediately drawn in by that. The childish innocence that was present throughout the story was absolutely haunting and heart-wrenching. The language and word choice was crisp, concise but at times, clearly something a child would see or say or think. I really can’t explain it, but something about the way Doerr wrote the book was almost soothing or poetic. It wasn’t like reading a book, instead it was reading a piece of poetry; the words just flowed beautifully from one page to the next. Truly, everything about this book was captivating from the beginning to end. It is a must read for anyone, no matter your genre preferences. This book seems to defy all book rules.
Until next time, let this following quote from the book itself make you smile, or at least think – “don’t you want to be alive before you die?”