Why did I love this book?
My father was a teenager when he fought in World War II. All my life I have tried to reconcile the dichotomy of my gentle father with the boy who joined the German military when he was 15. Werner Pfennig, the novel’s teenaged German protagonist, illustrates simply and powerfully that, even in a war, our moral compass allows us to make decisions to preserve our humanity.
In one of the book’s final chapters, Marie-Laure, the blind French protagonist, admits to Werner she is not brave: “I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?” Werner implies that we all have a choice when he replies, “Not in years. But today. Today maybe I did.”