“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
We can’t help where we were placed when we were born. Two children born in Europe a little more than 10 years before the start of World War II try and find a path through the world that lies before them. One is a girl whose mother is no longer alive and whose father does his best to ease her into a life of darkness as she goes blind. They live in Paris. The other is a boy who ends up an orphan with his sister after a mining accident in Germany and finds refuge in a house where a woman takes in the town’s orphans and cares for them.
Hope, tragedy and history are woven through this story that goes back and forth between the lives of these two children as they grow up during the war. Marie-Laure ends up in a sea-side town with her great-uncle after her father and her flee Paris. Her father’s job as key-keeper at the Museum of Natural History has him taking part in a conspiracy to hide a valuable jewel – one that has a curse. Werner finds out he is good with creating and fixing radios and his aptitude takes him to a Nazi youth school where he finds his soul at war with his desire to not make waves. He eventually becomes a soldier and fate will try and find a way for him to regain his soul.
I enjoyed reading this story. It brings alive the history of the war from the eyes of young adults and the bombing of the sea-side town of Saint-Malo. The story is wonderfully crafted and woven together and I didn’t want to put it down. I do love great historical fiction. I think it would be a great book club book because there are many parallels in the two stories and I want someone to talk to about it. It is for adults as the realities of war are presented. Add this to your to-read list!