Wow, this book. I'm not sure what to say about it that hasn't already been said, but I'll try. Have you ever had a book that you can't stop talking about? I'm sure my husband was getting sick of hearing me talk about this book. But it's the kind of book that gets into your head, that you want to discuss.
About the plot, I was hesitant to read this book at first because it is about World War II. Not only do I generally dislike books about war, but especially about Nazi Germany. Everything about war just depresses the hell out of me. And I know that it was an incredibly important time period, but honestly I just feel like WWII has been wrung out, and done to death.
But no, I was wrong. This author gives us an entirely fresh take on things. War as seen through the eyes of youth, and as experienced through someone who has no sight, a young French woman named Marie-Laure. To experience the sounds and smells of a bombing, and to think about the already terrifying experience of surviving a bombing, but now without sight, was just masterful. There were moments of pure, pure genius in this book. Points where I literally had to just put it down and take a deep breath. She's smart as a whip though, and so incredibly strong, and in the end it is her other senses that save her.
In addition to the point of view of the young blind woman in the book, we also get to experience the point of view of a poor German orphan named Werner, who becomes seduced by the possibility of a better life through the Reich. I could see in a flash how easy it would be to buy into their stories when you have nothing, and they are promising so much. My heart just broke over and over again at reading about this incredibly gifted and sensitive boy who becomes a cog in the machine of war.
Doerr has woven a tapestry that slowly brings these two characters together for a brief and gorgeous moment in time. That moment encapsulates the innocence of youth, and the innocence that was stolen from them so beautifully. I'm literally tearing up right now just thinking about it.
Ugh, just read this book. It's incredible. But beware of reading it in public, unless you don't mind crying in front of strangers.