by Anthony Doerr
This is one of those stories you hear a lot of people saying great things about, so curiosity made me read it too. It's set just before and during World War II, and is an interweaving of two stories, though at first it seems to be short, random snippets of different people's experience.
There are two aspects of it that didn't set well with me. One, it's told in present tense, which I find difficult to get into. The other is that much of it is told in such short snippets that just as you start to get into a part of the story, it switches to someone else and you have to start over. I didn't like this format at all.
Having said that, it's a rather poignant recollection of a dark time in history. The two main stories are about a French girl named Marie-Laure who becomes blind, and a German lad, Werner, who finds a radio and becomes adept at working and repairing electronics, a skill that the Nazis will find useful.
There were emotive recollections of terrible things that happened in the war, personalizing it. You can almost feel the experience of leaflets falling from the sky, or bombers flying overhead. The actual writing is very good, but the format kept jarring me out of the story. I'd love to see this writer do something with a straightforward narrative, because the descriptive passages were very effective.