It is nearly impossible to find words to describe this elegant, mesmerizing story of two people caught up in WWII. A young blind French girl and an orphan German boy and the unimaginable affect of science, music and words in a book. This will easily make my list of the best books of the year.
The story occurs along two time lines, in the beginning about 10 years apart. Each time period is clearly dated, so you won’t be confused and each chapter in that time period is titled with the name of the person you are following – again making it very easy to keep it all straight.
You meet Marie-Laure and her father when they live in Paris. Marie is six years old and is going blind. Her father carves her a miniature replica of her neighborhood so that she can learn to navigate the area on her own. He also builds puzzle boxes for her birthday with a hidden gift inside and Marie becomes an expert at opening them. When her blindness becomes complete her father buys her books in Braille and she enters a world where she doesn’t need her sight. Her father works at the Museum of Natural History and in its collection is a very valuable jewel.
You also meet Werner, age 8, and his sister Jutta, age six, orphans in Germany. He finds a discarded radio which doesn’t work but he takes it apart, thinks about it and three weeks later the radio is working.
As you follow them as children, you are also reading along the timeline ten years later – when the Allies are bombing Saint-Malo before its liberation and these two people will meet. Marie and her father have fled Paris and in her father’s keeping is the museum’s most valuable jewel. They live with Marie’s uncle, who has in his attic a radio. Werner is now a radio technician specializing in triangulation and the locating of Resistance radio transmitters.
This description merely touches the surface of this wonderful, wonderful book. It is well plotted, crafted and brought into being as a superb work.