All The Light We Cannot See

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All The Light We Cannot See Photo: Simon & SchusterI’ve been tempted by All The Light We Cannot See a few times over the past couple months, and with an upcoming trip to the UK (a pair of nine-hour flights, plus several train trips), I finally caved and loaded it up on my Kindle.

After a couple of months of very sporadic reading (ultraheavy education theory books and ultralight wedding magazines) during my first-ever teaching contract this spring, I felt I was due a good novel, and this striking piece of fiction fit the bill.

It’s truly beautiful storytelling (it won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). One day, if I can write something half as good, I’ll be a very happy lady. There are two parallel storylines at play here. A young blind girl and her father, a museum locksmith, flee Nazi-occupied Paris in 1940. Meanwhile, an orphaned German boy develops a fascination with radios, which earns him a place among the Nazi military elite.

The pace of the plot is pretty much perfect, and by the time the two storylines converge, I couldn’t put the book down. Coincidentally, I started the novel as Matt and I travelled through Manchester, where we spent a few hours at the Imperial War Museum North, which has a comprehensive chronological timeline display of the impact of both world wars on everyday people. I finished it right after we arrived in London, the morning of our visit to the Imperial War Museum London, an entirely different experience with its comprehensive, stunning and sobering Holocaust exhibition. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. The whole experience made for very interesting – and very thoughtful – reading.

There’s lots to love about All The Light We Cannot See – lyrical, descriptive writing, achingly sympathetic characters, beautifully-imagined settings and the magic of radio. It stayed with me for days.

Sharp Objects

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Photo Credit: Random House)Over the holidays, my brother’s girlfriend Cara tore through Sharp Objects, and then left it for me.

I loved Gone Girl, and she said it was a quick read, so I took her up on her offer. She was right! I polished it off on a couple of busy nights over the Christmas break, although the subject matter may not make it the best before-bed read. It’s a murder mystery, a reporter story and a thriller all in one.

I really liked this one. Like Gone Girl, the themes are adult and dark, and it does have a decent twist (although it wasn’t a WAIT, WHAT? twist like Gone Girl’s. Have you read it? If you haven’t, and you haven’t seen the film, you really should. It’s great). I predicted the ending, but not the pathway that Gillian Flynn took to get there, so it was still a worthwhile mystery. Cara and I both work in different branches of the journalism industry, and it was nice to see a female reporter as a protagonist, although Camille Preaker’s mental instability would likely be a real-life roadblock. You have to be made out of tough stuff to work as a reporter (which is why I mainly stick to lifestyle work these days).

One bad personal note – I ate a pomegranate and it dripped all over the book, so it looks like I either killed someone while reading it, or had a very bad accident. So I’m sorry, Cara. I owe you a book. I really enjoyed reading Sharp Objects, and it was quick and easy over the holidays. It’s no Gone Girl, but it’s worth a look.