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Nancy's Notes - May 28, 2015

"All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr, "God Help the Child" by Toni Morrison, "At the Water’s Edge" by Sara Gruen.

Summer days means time for rest and relaxation.  For me, this includes a good book!  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has been a popular read.  The novel won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  It is the story of a blind French girl, Marie-Larue, who, with her father, flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo.  With them, they carry a valuable and dangerous jewel from the Museum of Natural History located in Paris.  Werner, a German boy, wins an assignment at the brutal academy for Hitler Youth.  More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and finally into Saint-Malo where his story and Marie-Larue’s converge.  As the author weaves the lives of the two young people together, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

God Help the Child is the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current time.  The novel weaves a tale about the way sufferings of childhood can shape one’s future.  The centers on 4 characters : a young woman who calls herself Bride, Booker, Rain and Sweetness.  Bride is beautiful, bold and confident, traits that cause her mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. Booker is the man Bride loves, and loses to anger.  Rain is the mysterious child with whom she crosses paths.  Sweetness is Bride’s mother who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters.  And they might never forget.”

At the Water’s Edge is by Sara Gruen who also authored Water for Elephants. Set in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father after disgracing themselves at a high society Philadelphia New Year’s Eve party.  The senior Hyde is a former army colonel who is ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war.  Ellis decides the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed where he himself once publicly failed-- hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster.  Maddie follows Ellis and his best friend to a remote village in the Scottish Highlands.  Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where the food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news.  Yet, she finds herself falling in love with the country side and comes to know the villagers.  Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable and monsters lurk where they are least expected.  Maddie gains a fuller sense of who she might be and becomes aware of both the dark forces around her as well as life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.

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