by Nicole Krauss
This is not one of my challenge books. I suggested this book for my f2f bookclub and so that means I will be presenting it this month. I felt like I needed to read it again. I am so glad I did. I think this book is beautiful, a literal masterpiece. In this reading I was able to watch for the repetition of ideas and symbols. One theme that runs throughout is that of authenticity. What is real, what is believed but not real, and what is fake. Along with that is the idea of validation.
One of the lead characters is Leo Gurksy, an 80-yr-old single man who says, "All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen." He spills his popcorn at the theater so people will notice him. He even poses nude for an art class. He is quite the quirky, yet lovable character. He needs to be real and to be validated.
Later, another main character, Alma Singer, writes in her journal, "I am invisible to my mother." Again, the need to be seen, noticed. Alma's father died 4-5 years ago and she's trying to hold on to his memory and she's trying to keep his memory alive for her younger brother so she elaborates on his virtues. What's real, what's not. What is imagined?
When I finished The Book Thief I knew I would be disappointed by the next book I read, whatever that book would be. I thought my best choice would be a light, cozy mystery because I wouldn't be expecting much. But I had The History of Love I needed to reread. It turned out to be a perfect choice. Both books hold up greatly next to each other. I've requested a copy of The History of Love for Christmas, because I will want to read it again. The History of Love and The Book Thief are two of my top 10 favorite books I've ever read and I was fortunate to read them back to back.