ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
by Anthony Doerr
Scribner; May 6
Hardcover; 544 pages
Source: Received from publisher for review
Marie-Laure grows up in Paris with her father, the master of locks at the Museum of Natural History. Although she is blind, she is fascinated by the mysterious beauty of nature, and she delights in touching the tiny coils of snails, the smell of ocean mollusks. Her father builds her a wooden model of their neighborhood so she can memorize the streets by touch and learn to navigate on her own. When World War II closes in on Paris, Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo, a small town on the Brittany coast, where they live with her shell-shocked great uncle and his housekeeper.
Werner grows up with his sister in an orphanage in a German coal-mining town. When they find a crude radio, the siblings are entranced and Werner teaches himself its workings. He becomes known around the village for his skills with radios, and people come from all around to have him fix machines that seasoned professionals couldn’t mend. His talent lands him a spot at an elite military academy, where he learns to use his knowledge of math and radios to track the Resistance. Eventually, his work takes him to Saint-Malo, where his path intersects with Marie-Laure. Continue reading
by Ian McEwan
Anchor Books, 2001
Paperback, 351 pages
The year is 1935 and 13-year-old Briony Tallis wants to be a writer. On a hot summer day at her English estate, she witnesses a private moment between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie, a life-long friend and the son of a servant. Briony is too young to understand what she is seeing, and her vivid imagination and penchant for drama lead her to misread the situation. When a crime occurs later that night and people are desperate for answers, Briony spins her greatest story yet — a story she knows, on some level, is not true. This story, and the accusation she makes, has far-reaching consequences. Continue reading
THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT
by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Norton, March 2013
Hardcover, 378 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a sweeping epic spanning from 1935 to 1962 and centering on the war between the US and Japan. In a format that I have really grown to like, this novel tells the stories of multiple families and individuals, how the war affects them, and how they are connected.
In the first chapter, we meet Cam, a young man falling in love with a girl named Lacy. When next we see Cam, he is a pilot in the Doolittle Raid, the first US air raid to strike Japan during WWII. Continue reading
NO ONE IS HERE EXCEPT ALL OF US
by Ramona Ausubel
Riverhead, February 2012
Hardcover, 328 pages
Ramona Ausubel’s debut novel “No One is Here Except All of Us” is the first book I have read so far that was written this year, and I really liked it.
The novel is set in a tiny Romanian village at the outbreak of WWII in 1939. The Jewish villagers, though fearful of the spreading destruction, are counting on their isolation to keep them safe. That is, until a strange woman washes up on the river bank outside the town. The mysterious woman had seen the burning of her own village and the murder of everyone dear to her before escaping into the life-saving water. Privately thinking the woman will be their savior, the village people take her in and fearfully discuss what to do next. At the suggestion of the Stranger and the 11-year-old girl named Lena, who narrates the story, the villagers decide to create a new world for themselves, leaving the old one of war and fear behind. Continue reading