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.”
1. The overall mood. It may seem like a weird thing to like, but I did really enjoy the overall feeling of despair. It fit the subject material so well! The way the mood was crafted as well with the short chapters with alternating POV’s and the timeline is just perfect. It’s not so overpowering that you just feel depressed, but it is potent enough that you feel it in nearly every scene underlying some of the hope and happiness that is present. The way the mood was crafted through the ending as well with the extremely short chapters switching from life to life is wonderful!
2. The characters. I really loved all of the characters but especially Werner and Marie-Laure (of course, being the MC’s). Because of the short chapters, it may seem like you don’t have a grasp on them but when you reach the end, you realize how much you actually know them. So, in those terms, they are very 3D. One thing I also wanted to mention is Marie-Laure’s blindness and how it was integrated into the story. I really loved that she was blind because of the way it changed the dynamic of her character and thereby changing the characters around her.
3. The themes. Again, this may seem like a weird thing to say but I really loved the themes of death, hope, war, and enemies. They’re so perfectly woven throughout the story until the ending when you have the sad revelation of what it all means. The way the diamond plot was integrated also helps along those themes.
The Final Verdict:
This book perfectly captures the many contradictions of the human condition and the lengths that people are willing to go for their goals.
“Some people are weak in some ways, sir. Others in other ways.”
“A real diamond is never perfect.”
“When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
“All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?”
“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.”
“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”
“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”