My mom recommended this book to me and I am so glad I finally read it. It is a powerful story, told beautifully. It is a story of love and loss and survival and death. It is the story of two children coming of age during WWII. Marie-Laure is a beloved daughter of a Paris museum locksmith. She has grown up surrounded by the museum and all its treasures. When she goes blind her father builds a replica of their neighborhood so she can find her way around. He also spoils her with little puzzles and treasures. Warner is an orphan living in a children’s home in a mining town in Germany. He is mechanically brilliant, building a radio from scratch and repairing things in the town. He fears being sent to work in the mines and dying like his father. He is protective of his younger sister Jutta, but doesn’t really know how to help them. When he is given the opportunity to attend a Nazi technical school he jumps at the chance. School is a lot more brutal than he thought it would be, but he finds a way to survive.
Marie-Laure and Warner’s stories are told alternatively through their childhood and the present day at the end of the war. They both end up in Saint-Malo on the French coast. Marie-Laure and her father have fled Paris ahead of the Nazi occupation and taken up residence with her great uncle Etienne. Her uncle was traumatized by WWI and doesn’t leave the house; he suffers bouts of PTSD that leave him hiding in his room for days. Marie-Laure’s father again builds a model of the neighborhood so she can find her way about, but then he disappears. Warner has become part of a radio unit that hunts down insurgents. Their quest has led them to Saint-Malo. Little does he know that the radio broadcasts giving out information to the French resistance is the same one he listened to as a child on his homemade radio. Etienne has again taken to the airwaves after being convinced by his housekeeper to join the fight. Warner is intrigued by the blind girl he sees coming out of the house and finds himself protective of her and Etienne. Their stories intersect during the last days in Saint-Malo as it is being bombed by the Allies.
Interspersed with all of this is the story of the Sea of Flames, a singular blue diamond with a heart of fire. It has traveled the world before ending up in the Paris museum. It is said to be cursed, offering immortality to its bearer but death to all those you love. Marie-Laure’s father was entrusted with its safe keeping when he fled Paris. A Nazi officer has been pursuing it across France as he also evaluates other jewels confiscated by the Nazis. He is dying and is determined to get the jewel in the hopes of saving his life. His search leads him right to the door of Marie-Laure.
I loved this book and really had a hard time putting it down. It is beautifully written and Marie-Laure and Warner came alive on the page. I couldn’t wait to see how their stories would finally intersect. This book really brought out the lives of ordinary people in the war. Even though Marie-Laure and Warner are extraordinary in their own ways, there stories are ones shared by others during that time. They are doing what they can to survive and remain themselves. I thought the ending was perfect. It wasn’t a happy ending, yet it was in many ways. This book is definitely worthy of all the praise that has been heaped upon it.
This book gives a good history of how children and teenagers were raised and trained with National Socialist propaganda. The author uses case histories of real people who had grown up during that era in that situation. The book also tells us how these children came to grips with what they had been through long after they had grown into adulthood.
I enjoyed reading the book. It is a good way to introduce young adults to the years preceding the Holocaust and the events leading up to it. Plot was good and characters believable.
Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi commander in charge of emptying Europe of its Jews. He commanded the transportation of Jews from their homes to the ghettos to the camps and to their extermination. He was an essential part of the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. At the end of WWII, he escaped Germany and ended up in Buenos Ares, Argentina. He lived there in freedom for 15 years before he was identified by a local girl and her Jewish father. Israel was contacted and soon a team of Mossad agents where in Buenos Ares with a plan to capture Eichmann and bring him back to Israel to stand trial. This is their story. It is a compelling story of how the Israelis tracked down Eichmann, confirmed his identity, captured him, and secreted him out of Argentina. The trial of Adolf Eichmann brought the story of the Holocaust into the public consciousness. Survivors were able to tell their stories and the world was ready to listen. This trial was a turning point in the story of the Jews. It is a powerful story and one I hadn’t heard before. Definitely worth the read.
I couldn’t put this book down; I didn’t want to put it down. Leon Leyson captured my attention and held it throughout his entire story. We learn a lot about the Holocaust and what happened during those years, but I haven’t ever really read an autobiography about it. Leon Leyson was just a young boy when Germany invaded Poland. He and his family lived in Krakow and quickly began to feel the effects of the Nazi machine. Because his father had a job, most of his family was protected, but they were never really safe. His father worked for Oskar Schindler at his enamel factor and was one of the first on “the list”. Leon, his mother and his brother David also had their names added to the list. Unfortunately, two of his brothers did not; one fled to the country and one was rounded up during one of the ghetto cleansings. His sister worked for another factory and was protected until the end. Being on Schindler’s list did not necessarily mean full protection however. The family was still subjected to the ghetto and the guards who terrorized it. They were also all sent to concentration camps during the move from Krakow to Brunnlitz. This is a very compelling story of one family’s survival during the atrocities of WWII. Leon didn’t die horribly like so many others during that time. He survived, moved to America and became a teacher. It wasn’t until the release of Schindler’s List that he started to speak about his experiences. Leon Leyson was the youngest person on the list, but he was not the only one. Oskar Schindler’s bravery and dedication to saving his Jews was amazing. Reading this book made me want to learn more about Schindler (beyond what I remember from the movie!).
Drawing on the unique historical sites, archives, expertise, and unquestioned authority of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, New York Times bestselling authors Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón have created the first authorized and exhaustive graphic biography of Anne Frank. This is a concise introduction to not only Anne Frank and her family but history of Nazism, concentration camps, general history of WWII and how the conflict spread as well as the years immediately after the war. I had not realized prior to reading this the first concentration camp built and opened in Germany was to house German citizens who opposed the Nazi parties new policies.
This is the story of one man’s journey from fighting to survive physically from a bomber crash in the sea, and fighting for physical and mental survival as a prisoner of war to coming to terms with his experiences and learning to forgive and reclaim his own life.
Louis Zamperini had trained as an athlete leading him to compete in the Berlin Olympics but WWII changed his calling to airman. On a May afternoon in 1943, with the crash of his bomber, Zamperini began a much longer journey of endurance. A test of his will to live and to overcome.
Sandra Dallas is one of my favorite authors. Her characters always come to life for me and I can see the landscape they are living in.
This story is about how the lives of a farm family and their rural Colorado community are affected by the government building an internment camp for Japanese American citizen during WWII right outside their town in an area known as Tallgrass by the locals. After a young girl is killed all suspicions turn on the “foreigners” at the camp. The teenage narrator, Rennie, struggles with her own thoughts of what is right versus her own fears and suspicions. Dallas describes the countryside and the emotional workings of a family that ring true to life and take you back in time to the 1940s.
This book is full of facts about groups supplying American troops with comfort items from the civil war forward of course the main emphasis is WWII.
Private citizens followed troops around from campsite to campsite selling items for whatever prices they wanted to the soldiers during the civil war. Once World War I started the government didn’t want the soldiers to be cheated like they often had been in the past so they started letting only a few approved vendors sell items like chewing gum, candy, beer, ice cream, razors etc., to the troops. The logistics of keeping supplies with the men, often meant things had to be shipped with the military supplies and the army determined it would be easier and better if they were in charge of all moral booster shops or “post exchanges” or PX’s.
The book also talks about day to day life of the troops and of citizens in both the Pacific and European theaters but mainly in Europe where the soldiers and citizens mingled more often. European civilians often thought all Americans were rich because they had luxury items like chocolate when the civilians had been on strict rations for years for basics like floor and milk. Much stricter rations than the U.S. civilians had at the same time.
I thought it was touching that the majority of soldiers stationed in Germany at the end of the war tried to help the German civilians they encountered and the regular German soldiers. They knew that these German citizens had been victims of the Nazis and the government and they felt that giving humanitarian aid to the citizens would also improve relations between the countries later (taken from several soldiers personal letters back home — not official statements.) It is sad that “fresh” soldiers who never saw battle sent in to replace the war-battered troops for “peace keeping” often treated all the Germans the same and regarded all of them as the enemy, whereas the men who had actually been fired upon by German troops forgave the common soldier and knew the civilians should not be blamed
A story of friendship between a young prisoner of Auschwitz and Bruno, the naive German boy who is the son of the commandant. Bruno never really understands what is happening around him. It’s just unimaginable to him. Which in some ways makes the story all the more poignant.