Wednesday Words

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Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See-Anthony Doerr

all the light

There are moments that pass over us like a transparent, non perceivable veil. They float above our head, leaving us with a feeling that is indescribable as the moment itself cannot be grasped. There are books that leave us with the same feeling. We close the cover, and reflect on the moment, the words that have reverberated in between our bones. Such is the effect of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

This book follows the lives of two people whose complexity creates a rift in the light, the lines of time, yet their presence in history goes unnoticed, as time drifts on. Werner Pfenning is an orphan boy in Germany who lives and breathes, and eventually fights in the World War II. Marie-Laure Leblanc is a blind girl who lives with her father in Paris. Both characters must faces the mass affects of war, the black holes history swallowing up everything surrounding them. Werner is driven by his deep love of science and Marie-Laure by her passion for words and books. The novel is the webbing and flashbacks of the their lives, the German force against French Resistance.

This novel is not just a war story, depicting the lives of the fallen. Yet, this novel uncovers the lives of the forgotten, the ones whose story was never written. It’s a parable, a metaphor, a paradox threaded together by the light people have emitted, are emitting. Doerr writes about an magnanimous event in history and creates a fantastical story about the stories that go untold. The stories that are buried deep underneath the rubble of war, death, life.

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.

This novel is more of an experience that an actually sit down read. It’s some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a while. The words on the page are so fluid and read so lyrical, it’s almost as if you are listening to music, or running your hands through water. The novel clings to you, yet washes over you like a cold bath. The language itself makes the novel worthwhile. I enjoyed reading this book very much, it was so different and refreshing to read a war novel that doesn’t read exactly as a war novel but more of a musical sonata. Doerr has proven to be an absolute terrific writer as he lets us in to the magic he creates.

We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.

It’s difficult to review this novel, because how can you review an experience that is iridescent? I simply loved this novel just for the prose alone. During my reading I found it to be a little drawn out and I wondered when or where the climax in the novel would take place. It was difficult to sometimes find the central purpose and plot of the novel. However, after I finished reading, I realized that Doerr didn’t create a novel that followed the simple rise and fall format, as does most novels. He wanted to pull the reader into the orb of light that constantly is streamed throughout. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is ready for unconventional, or simply for one who loves prose or lyrics. Enjoy the masterpiece.

Books to Read for Black History Month

This month is a time to celebrate and be educated about the history of black people. There is so much history and depth that honestly, one month doesn’t cover it all. Books are a great way to be introduced into the background of black issues and history. Many find discussions about race to be uncomfortable and confrontational, but it is through literary works that we can be illuminated and educated. We as society need to widen our scope and understanding of race, especially the black race. Fiction and non fiction can help foster your understanding of black history which is why I firmly believe everyone should indulge themselves in reading black literature not only in February, but throughout your reading queues. Here are some novels to pick up this February that highlight black history, culture, and various racial struggles.

1. Black Like Me-John Howard Green

2.Men We Reaped-Jesmyn Ward

3. Notes from No Man’s Land-Eula Biss

4. The Warmth of Other Suns-Isabel Wilkerson

5. Open City-Teju Cole

6. How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America-Kiese Laymon

7. Native Son– Richard Wright

8. The Measure of A Man-Sidney Poitier

Of course, there are many books out there that discuss black history, these are just my immediate recommendations. What are your favorite Black History Month reads? #blacklivesmatter

Book Review: The Book Thief-Markus Zusak

19063

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.

Markus Zusak really propels the reader into his novel head first, gripping them by the shoulders and never really letting go. The Book Thief encapsulates the essence of a literary World War Two quite well. I was pleasantly surprised at how amazing this book truly was. When the novel first came to fruition I had heard very little of its impact. However when this novel became a film in theater, the buzz surrounding it was definitely worth noting. I have this habit of turning the other way, when books become films, and much to my dismay this book became not a priority to read. However a year later, this book has been on my TBR shelf for quite some time. I am happy I chose to read it later though; it’s magic was exactly what I needed. This book is a great winter read, as its tone is cold and snow layered. Many of you, I am sure have read this novel and with great acclamation can attest to its strong presence in the literary world.

Liesel Meminger is a young girl in the midst of Nazi Germany. She is swept away from her home, mother, and her brother whom died in the process of her moving. To maintain the memory of all that she has lost, she steals her first possession, a book by the title of The Grave Digger’s Handbook. When she arrives at her foster home, she begins her journey as a book thief and a Hitler Youth student. Liesel faces the turning of Germany and it’s transition into become a Jew hating country. Rudy, a young boy, befriends Liesel and together they steal things from the neighborhood, including Liesel’s favorite: books. In the wake of the progression of Nazi Germany, half Jewish Max Vandenburg flees his home and finds refuge in the home of the Hubermann’s-Liesel foster’s parents. Now holding in a dark secret, not only the Hubermann’s,but Liesel face the impending consequences if they are found hiding a Jew. Together both Liesel and Max become the best of friends uncovering the disparity between being a Jew and a German. They live through their quiet words whispered in a basement and the etchings drawn by charcoal.  The gravity of the war inflicts a pain and discovery that is found through the friendship of Max and Liesel. However the author makes no mistakes to take away just as much as he gives the reader.

It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on, coughing and searching, and finding.

I absolutely loved reading The Book Thief  and have nothing but praise for Zusak’s fine literary work. I was blown away at how Zuzak used Death (I capitalized because it’s a character in the novel) as the narrator. It really highlights the ever ominous presence in the novel and war. I found myself pouring through the pages and was constantly amazed at the beauty of the words. The author captures the essence of World War Two in a literary way that doesn’t seem overtly historical but not too fictional. There so many parts in the novel that took my breath away. Many say this book is a Young Adult fiction, and while I agree it could be for an older young adult, there are many elements in The Book Thief that are quite adult. I don’t have any criticism for the novel other than the ending, which may surprise some. I give this novel five stars for being so incredibly well written. Read read read!

Did you enjoy The Book Thief the same way as I did? Let’s hear your thoughts.

Happy Reading!