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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Friday, February 13, 2015

"All the Light We Cannot See" and "Lisette's List": Historical Fiction at it's Best!



At lunch, a few days ago, my co-workers and I were sharing what books we were reading.  I began to mention the book I was reading and that it was about France during WWII.  Someone blurted out, “Oh I Love WWII!”.  If this statement stood alone, it would have sounded strange.  But I knew exactly what she meant.  Good historical fiction can show us what it was like to live in that time, and it can challenge our notions of who we think are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in history.  This is no more true than with “All the Light We Cannot See”, by Anthony Doerr, and “Lisette’s List”, by Susan Vreeland.  Both are about the German occupation of France during WWII, and both are wonderful examples of historical fiction.

“All the Light We Cannot See”, tells several intertwining stories of French and Germans during WWII.  While the plot doesn’t shirk from showing us the gritty existence of those living through a war, it also puts a human face on all the characters, making us empathetic towards even the most despicable ones.  I was fascinated by the main character, Marie-Laure, a blind girl trying to understand, and survive, a world in upheaval.  The author’s use of light as a metaphor for knowledge was multi-layered and a pleasure to read.

In “Lisette’s List”, Susan Vreeland shows us the effects of the war on a small village in Provence through the eyes of Parisian, Lisette, who moves there with her husband.  Instead of the life she had planned on, (becoming involved in the art scene in Paris) history and fate step in to create a life she must accept and find a way to shape her own happiness.  As with “All the Light We Cannot See”, it also shows the hardships, and loss, of war.  The characters had depth and changed over the course of the book. Unlike “All the Light We Cannot See”, this book is a more personal story of one woman’s struggle to honor what she has lost, but also to move forward.  I found the list of goals Lisette kept inspiring, and made me want to create my own list of goals to find a meaningful life.


I highly recommend both “all the Light We Cannot See”, and Lisette’s List”.  They are the type of stories with characters I was saddened to leave at the end of the books.  For the present, I will have to console myself with nibbling on a velvety brie and drinking good bottle of French wine!
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