A striking book with an inauspicious premise, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, led me to immediately want to tag along after Ove as he got caught up in the lives of his neighbors. As he skulks around his neighborhood, I felt an urgency that he find something to bring him out of his curmudgeonly demeanor. This was the first book that was read by the members of a newly founded book group and would probably not have been one I would have read on my own.
Oh, how glad I was to have been a part of Ove’s world, small in a physical sense, but immense in the growth of the human spirit. There’s a feeling that the characters are not in a book but have entered my heart. I wanted so badly to make everything alright and for Ove to find comfort and happiness, not just with his neighbors but with himself. In the end, I found some comfort in my own heart.
The blurbs that describe books on best sellers lists and online sites are often what attract me to a book or author, especially when either is unfamiliar. All the Light We Cannot See, despite its title which drew me to read the blurb, was not one that made me feel like reading the book. A blind girl during WWII seemed dark especially within Nazi-occupied France. Nevertheless, this was the book for this month, so I reluctantly opened to the first page. It was upside down, a bad start.
The jacket cover had been put on upside down, which led to some interesting stares when I read the book in a public area. I didn’t care. From the first page, my initial disinterest turned upside down, or maybe more apt, right side up.
The love between father and daughter, and the concurrent story of the young orphan, Werner, followed the impact that the occupation by German forces had upon each of them. It seems inevitable that this young blind girl, Marie-Laure, and Werner will cross paths. However the twists and turns that their paths follow didn’t follow the paths that I anticipated. The outcome I wanted for these people-for they no longer seemed to be just characters-did not unfold as I’d hoped, for now I was invested in their lives. The light shined but even now, I’m not sure I can.