This month’s reading was not nearly as prolific as I was expecting. It was good though!
And it means I can be more long-winded than usual when talking about the one book I read. Bwahaha.
I don’t even know. This is basically all I read during September and it both was and wasn’t what I was expecting.
A lot of times, once I decide I want to read a book, I stop reading any reviews of it. Somehow, I manage to consciously forget whatever reviews made me want to read it in the first place. I like to read stories free from expectations, to feel like I’m discovering the story completely on my own.
But I knew this was a beautifully-written, heart-wrenching book about WWII. Which immediately led me to compare it to The Book Thief, with both books focusing on young characters and how their lives are affected by the war. This one has somewhat of a unique twist and stands out simply by not focusing on the Holocaust, like so many WWII novels do.
It started slow. Initially, I was a little unsettled while reading as each chapter jumped to different characters and timelines. As the story unfolded, I started thinking maybe that was the point — to mimic the unsettled feeling people had all over Europe as the war began, as those in France were unsure when the Germans would arrive in their towns, as those in Germany tried to distill fact from fiction in their leaders’ messages. Once I got an understanding of the different characters and plotlines, I was hooked. It turned into a page-turner, for me, and I would sigh or groan as I turned a page only see we were jumping back in time again, only to get sucked back into that part of the story.
Still, it was a slow read. I’m not sure why — possibly because Doerr’s prose was so beautiful, so careful, so deliberate, that I felt I had to take my time to linger over every word, and doing so made the act of the reading much more active and even tiring. And it was absolutely heart-breaking — all throughout. I read a couple comments saying the book was “too sad,” and it was sad. There’s an undercurrent of sadness, grief, uncertainty, and fear throughout, which was hard, but I found it appropriate. You don’t expect a WWII novel, or any novel about any war, to have much sunshine and rainbows, right?
It’s the kind of book I want to talk about. I wish I had a good book club here to read this with.
Bottom line: Everyone’s recommending this book for a reason.