The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Brilliant Author

        I finished this novel yesterday morning. It was a supreme sacrifice. I had a choice. Either I worked on started working on my report cards for an hour before heading to an all-day meeting, or I could finish Doerr's book. Choosing the book made sense, since I knew I would have trouble concentrating on anything else if I was still wondering how the book ended.

       This is a gem of a book. Anthony Doerr writes like a poet. There are jewel-like lines on every page.  Every single page. I'm not kidding. Here are just a few:

*     He practices concentrating only on blinking. Pulse in his neck. Tock tock tock tock. Others, he thinks, would do this with less finesse. Others would use scanners, explosives, pistol barrels, muscle. Von Rumpel uses the cheapest of materials, only minutes, only hours.
      Five bells. The light leaches out of the gardens.

*    "How about peaches, dear?" murmurs Madame Manec, and Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl. Seconds later, she's eating wedges of wet sunlight.

*    A corner of the night sky, beyond a wall of trees, blooms red. In the lurid, flickering light, he sees the airplane was not alone, that the sky teems with them, a dozen swooping back and forth, racing in all directions, and in a moment of disorientation, he feels that he's looking not up but down, as though a spotlight has been shined into a wedge of bloodshot water, and the sky has become the sea, and the airplanes are hungry fish, harrying their prey into the dark.

        This is a story of war. Of resistance. Of succumbing. Of refusing to succumb. Werner is a young German orphan who becomes one of the Nazi's assets. Marie-Laure is a young French blind girl. As you read the story, you know they are going to meet... but you have no idea what the outcome will be.

       Doerr (wisely) has written his novel in short chapters. Most of them are 2-4 pages long, and they alternate between Werner and Marie-Laure. The short spurts ensure that the reader doesn't get burnt out by the intensity of either character's events. We are sitting on the edge our seat with Marie-Laure, biting our nails, and then get a break from her as we read about Werner. The intensity of what is going on with his character builds up... and then we're back to Marie-Laure.  

        I would highlyhighlyhighly recommend this book. You get a window into what happened with the Nazi schools for young boys. You're privy to some of the things the French did as they resisted the Nazis. You're able to travel to a different country and a far different era...