Of all my vacation reads, this has been my favorite. I can't stop thinking about it. A debut novel by Cambridge author, Celeste Ng, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU is powerful and piercingly on target. For all of us who are drawn to books about dysfunctional families this is the pinnacle!  Bring on the maladjusted, the wounded, and the flawed..it's all here depicted in gorgeous, poignant prose.

The summary below says it all....

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .

So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

(Amazon Review and Best Book of 2014)

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UNDER A PALM TREE (December 2014)

Yes, I am on vacation...I've been gone three days (two days of rain...) and just finished EUPHORIA BY LILY KING, a novel loosely based on an episode in the life of Margaret Mead. I thought I would hate this book...who wants to read about tribes in New Guinea? To my surprise, I did!

It's a meticulously researched homage to the anthropologist blended into a steamy and intelligent story. A love triangle...compelling, sensuous and beautifully written. Everything from competing egos and desires, violence, and tragedy are combined making EUPHORIA an expertly crafted satisfying drama....and what a drama!! In my opinion this is a must read....


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Everyone knows about GOODREADS. Just to refresh some memories, it's the largest network of readers and book recommendations online...or anywhere!  Every year members select the best books in twenty categories ranging from fiction, nonfiction, history, to the unique...like best Goodreads author debut.

This year the best book in fiction selected by Goodreads readers is Landline by Rainbow Rowell. The novel follows a TV writer in a crumbling marriage who discovers a way to talk to her husband in the past...on a phone.

I am reading Landline and all I can say is...Were the  Goodreads voters all drunk??? With all the wonderful fiction out this year...this is what they picked?!!?  I'm so disillusioned, disappointed and disgruntled!  I hope you read it so we can all suffer together...

Here's more info...

WINNER 46,154 votes

Landline by Rainbow Rowell


Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble 
for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, 
deeply —
 But that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for 
Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go.....
and it all goes downhill....
No surprise.....

I'm probably in the minority..Obviously many liked this book...but it's 
my not so humble opinion and I'm standing by it! 

HOLIDAY BOOK ALERT! (December 2014)

I'm looking forward to Anita Diamant's new book, THE BOSTON GIRL. It's an historical novel told in the first person by an 85 year old woman in response to a question from her granddaughter. Although best known for THE RED TENT, Diamant is the author of both fiction and nonfiction. THE BOSTON GIRL will be released December 9th and is already the recipient of excellent reviews.

THE BOSTON GIRL by Anita Diamant

The Boston Girl

The author of the bestseller The Red Tent gives readers a first-person tour of the early 20th century through the eyes of Addie Baum, the feisty, determined, thoroughly appealing narrator of Diamant's latest novel. Born in 1900 to Jewish immigrant parents who don't understand her intellectual curiosity or her rebellious ways, Addie forges her own path to become a "real American." Addie's vibrant voice makes history come alive in this inspirational story of a young woman who thinks big and makes her dreams come true. (Bookreporter.com)

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December is a busy time of year, so some book suggestions wouldn't be out of order. I contacted a few blog readers to seek inspiration for holiday gifts and books that travel well.
Here they are, and what an eclectic mix!

All can be ordered directly from this blog. Click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar and shop  away! In the spirit of the season and actually all year round, a percentage of sales goes to charity.

All Days Cover FINAL

All Days are Night by Peter Stamm

Gillian is content with her marriage to Matthias, even if she feels restless at times. One night following an argument, the couple has a terrible car accident: Matthias, who is drunk, dies in the crash. Gillian wakes up in the hospital completely disfigured. Only slowly, after many twists and turns, does she put her life back together and reconnects with a love interest of the past who becomes a possible future --- or so it seems.

The Perfect Mother: A Novel

The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’ carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder if she ever really knew her daughter. 

The Escape (John Puller Series #3)

THE ESCAPE by David Baldacci

In ZERO DAY and THE FORGOTTEN, readers met John Puller. A combat veteran and special agent with the U.S. Army, Puller is the man they call to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation. But all his training, experience and skills will not prepare him for his newest case, one that will force him to hunt down the most formidable and brilliant prey he has ever tracked: his own brother. 



FAMILY FURNISHINGS brings us 24 of Alice Munro’s most accomplished, most powerfully affecting stories, many of them set in the territory she has so brilliantly made her own: the small towns and flatlands of southwestern Ontario. These stories illuminate the quotidian yet extraordinary particularity in the lives of men and women, parents and children, friends and lovers as they discover sex, fall in love, part, quarrel, suffer defeat, set off into the unknown, or find a way to be in the world. 



Part love story and part survival story, this novel, about an Australian doctor who endured Japanese POW camps but remained haunted by his affair with his uncle's wife, is the kind of sweeping epic classic we all long for. This year it won the England's Man Booker Prize and instantly swept on the best-sellers lists. Our advice: After page 70, be prepared to cancel the rest of your life—there is no stopping 'til the end....or shopping!


Here's two debuts in time for the holidays and it appears to be an unconventional mix...History,  crime, and good old dysfunction...What more could anyone want?  Well, maybe a few things, but these will keep you entertained for awhile. 

GOD'll CUT YOU DOWN by John Safran 

This stranger-than-fiction true crime story finds Safran—a white, Jewish documentary filmmaker from Australia—relocating to Rankin County, Miss., to dig deep into the grisly stabbing murder of a 67-year-old white supremacist in April 2010. A 23-year-old African-American man named Vincent McGee pleaded guilty in the case, but this was no run-of-the-mill race crime. With allegations swirling of a money-for-sex relationship between the founder of a white nationalist organization and his black neighbor, the lure was too great for Safran (a self-proclaimed “Race Trekkie”) to resist. Armed with his Dictaphone and a thirst for the truth, Safran tracks down and interviews nearly all individuals associated with the case, resulting in wildly opposing accounts of what happened that spring evening. The result is a bizarrely unsettling, yet often witty book that paints a disturbing picture of the deep South today.    



SINS OF OUR FATHERS by Shawn Lawrence Otto 

This stylish novel from Otto concerns J.W., a smalltown bank president whose gambling addiction causes his life to spiral out of control. One year after his son Chris’s dies in an auto crash while driving stoned, J.W. abandons his harried wife, Carol, and his teenaged daughter, Julie. When J.W.’s embezzlement of bank funds to cover his betting losses is uncovered, his boss fires him and then coerces him into spying on the local competition. J.W. relocates to live in a trailer and spies on Johnny Eagle, who is establishing a new tribal bank on the Ojibwe reservation. Otto's wonderfully vivid debut culminates in a rousing and satisfying climax. 

Sins of Our Fathers

ISABEL'S WAR by Lila Perl 

(This book is appropriate for YA readers as well as adults)

Published posthumously, Perl’s moving WWII novel set in the Bronx traces a Jewish girl’s growing awareness of the atrocities occurring overseas. At first, 12-year-old Isabel views the war as an inconvenience, bemoaning new rationing rules and the growing shortages of luxury items. Similarly, she resents the arrival of Helga, a beautiful German refugee with “a swanlike neck, and luminous gray-green eyes,” who ends up living with Isabel’s family when Helga’s American guardian turns ill. But as Isabel gleans bits of information about Helga’s horrific experiences in Germany and in England, where she was delivered as part of the Kindertransport, Isabel’s heart gradually softens. Now her problem is getting others to believe Helga’s tales and persuading Helga that she is not to blame for what her family suffered. This coming-of-age story offers an authentic glimpse of the 1940s American war effort and corresponding sentiments while introducing a realistically flawed heroine whose well-meaning efforts sometimes backfire.

ISABEL'S WAR by Lila Perl

Be sure to read Publishers Weekly for timely book news...

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I just started US by David Nicholls and so far it's a mish-mash of humor, angst and drama. US was  long listed for the Mann Booker Prize, the main reason I decided to read it. The characters are annoying, but the humor is making them tolerable. I'm hoping things improve on many levels...except for the unusal writing style and format, both engaging...the only reasons I haven't totally abandoned this book.

US by David Nicholls (Fiction)

Douglas and Connie live more or less happily in the suburbs of London with their moody 17-year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells Douglas she thinks she wants a divorce. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie had planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family. Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in their marriage and might even help him to bond with Albie. That remains to be seen.....

Blog readers have been recommending MY SISTER'S GRAVE by Robert Dugoni, labeling it an intriguing and exciting thriller...So if you're in the mood for a Grisham-like book, this is a good choice.
Here's what Bookreporter.com had to say.....

MY SISTER'S GRAVE by Robert Dugoni (Mystery/Thriller)

I have been a longtime fan of Robert Dugoni, and his talent has only improved with time. MY SISTER’S GRAVE has everything: terrific plotting, well-drawn characters and solid writing. It’s a cross between a legal thriller and a police procedural. While reading it, I was dropped into a zone with a fast-paced story that grabbed me and wrapped me up in the adventure and storyline.

In it, Tracy Crosswhite is a Seattle homicide detective who is convinced that the man who was convicted of murdering her sister, Sarah, is not the right person. When Sarah’s remains are found in a lake bed 20 years after her death, Tracy’s theory becomes more sound. Her childhood friend collaborates with her to take a fresh look at the crime, and the action ramps up fast....

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SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW? (November 2014)

Stephen  King is releasing a new book, which is no surprise. Although it's been touted as a departure from his usual horrifying storylines, it's still pretty horrifying! King followers will revel in REVIVAL. Critics have labeled it "one of King's most disturbing and satisfying books."

If you're into history, ISABELLA by Kristen Downey is an engaging and detailed biography of the fascinating, controversial ruler of Spain. This biography has been labeled a "dramatic page-turner" by critics, so If you're in the  mood for a well researched bio this would be it....

By Stephen King
King mines deeper territory—the transformative power of grief—in a thriller that showcases his unmatched ability to evoke sheer terror through prose. Six-year-old Jamie Morton and the new minister of his church, the Rev. Charles Jacobs, have a shared obsession: the power of electricity. Their lives will intersect strangely over the next 50 years—when Jacobs' life is shattered by a tragic accident and much later when Jamie reaches his own rock-bottom of despair and addiction. King explores the dual meanings of "revival" as the story spins its way to a horrifying conclusion.   


By Kirstin Downey
Most schoolchildren know Queen Isabella of Spain as half of the royal couple that financed Columbus' expedition to the New World. But Downey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, asserts that Isabella was a far more forceful and influential leader than her husband Ferdinand. This engaging biography brings readers all the facets of a remarkable but overlooked woman: from the farsighted ruler who helped to unify Spain to the ardently devout Catholic who pursued a brutal religious Inquisition.

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It's been three years of bookish ramblings or would rumblings be more accurate? Thankyou everyone who has shared their ideas, written a review, made a book suggestion (Many of you), left a comment (Not many of you), and taken the time to read this blog (or at least say you do...) But what counts is you believe what I write and take me seriously (Uh...maybe..).

Ok, enough rambling for now....Happy BLOGIVERSARY to Joyce's Choices...Hope we can all keep turning the pages together for many more years! And check out the kind words below from one of my many fans...

Yup, really love Joyce's Choices!


The Paying Guests. Sarah Waters. Riverhead. 576 pages. $28.95.

Frances has it bad, and that's not good. Normally she's intelligent, reliable, 
and resourceful, a companion to her widowed mother, keeper of a large house on 
Champion Hill. But then Frances falls in love, and the carefully wrought edifice of
 her life collapses in a heap of passion and catastrophe.

Yes, I am reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and I can't put it down.
It's not a great book but it's fascinating, bewildering, intriguing, and sensual.
I'm halfway into its 500 pages. I  have a constant sense of foreboding....

NPR said....
The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters' superb, bewitching new novel, is set 
in 1922 London. World War I has recently ended, but not before consuming 
hundreds of thousands of British lives and leaving the nation economically 
Families like Frances' — once wealthy — now find the cupboard bare and
Frances and her mother decide to take in lodgers, the "paying guests"...
Waters is a master of the slow build, of the gradual assemblage of 
tiny random moments that result in a life-altering love. 

(WARNING) This novel is one of the most sensual you will ever read, and all 
without sacrificing either good taste or a "G" rating....

Buy now directly from this blog. Click on the Amazon 
Searchbox in the Sidebar.


Over the past 50 years Anne Tyler has published 19 novels, including Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, An Accidental Tourist and Digging to America. She's won a Pulitzer and many other prizes. 

Anne Tyler is that rare writer who has literary stature and a wide public following, and has earned that position without self-promotion. For many years she has declined all face-to-face interviews. She has avoided book tours and public appearances, and still continues to do so.

The 71-year-old author has revealed the title of her latest work, A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD after announcing that she would not write another novel.

I can't wait for it's February release!


Random House Review...

From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning author--now in the fiftieth year of her remarkable career--a brilliantly observed, joyful and wrenching, funny and true new novel that reveals, as only she can, the very nature of a family's life. 

"It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon." This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole family--their two daughters and two sons, their grandchildren, even their faithful old dog--is on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red's father.

 Brimming with the luminous insight, humor, and compassion that are Anne Tyler's hallmarks, this capacious novel takes us across three generations of the Whitshanks, their shared stories and long-held secrets, all the unguarded and richly lived moments that combine to define who and what they are as a family.

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HE'S BACK.....(OCTOBER 2014)

Yes, a new Grisham is in the house!  Yes, I'll read it and yes, it's typical John Grisham doing his thing! Welcome to GRAY MOUNTAIN, on book stands now!


"In classic Grisham style, the reader is brought into the world of a naive yet resourceful young lawyer who begins to uncover the generations of secrets which want to remain buried. Gray Mountain follows Samantha, a third year associate at New York's largest law firm, who loses her job two weeks after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Within a week, Samantha is out of New York and has become an unpaid intern in a legal aid clinic in small town Appalachia, where for the first time she deals with real clients with real problems; those real problems start uncovering a sinister world of big coal, with its impacts on the environment, the health of its miners, but, as the only real industry in town, with an overbearing influence on a community and its people. Her character's intelligence and resourcefulness leads her deeper into this world, and, in the vein of many Grisham novels, leads her into deeper and deeper peril.

That a "big law" lawyer could end up in such a situation is spot on. Right during the big crash the economy could not even come close to bearing the quantity of lawyers who flooded the market during that time. I know quite a few young lawyers who were left utterly disappointed with the "big law" world and, post crash, ended up in public service. In fact, numerous big law firms actually helped place their underutilized associates in non-profit and legal aid positions to give them the "real world" experience with the hope that hey might be able to rehire them. That a highly intelligent, resourceful, and driven young woman could end up in deep Appalachia is not as far-fetched as one would think.

Gray Mountain has all of the characteristics of a Grisham classic with its pacing, twists, and turns. The novel does not disappoint. It is a genre that has worked well for Grisham, and is shows true here."
Amazon Review

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 Recently Barbara A. posted comments on Goodreads about An Unnecessary Woman by Rabin Alameddine ( No relation to George Clooney) which debuted about a year ago. Some critics had called it "slow and rambling" while others labeled it "spellbinding." The author is Lebanese/American and gives a clear view of the obstacles women face in Beirut, in this case focusing on an older woman.

The comment below enthusiastically says it all....

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddin

I absolutely adored this book, but it's going to be difficult to explain why. If I said that it was about a lonely elderly woman in Beirut who translates books and never shows the products to anyone, would you run out and buy a copy? See? I didn't think so! But I trusted my friend Richard, who recommended it to me, and he was spot-on. I would have devoured this in one reading, so delicious was it, but for reasons of an orthopedic nature, I kept falling asleep. I will assume that this is not an issue for you, so unless you dislike world literature ( not likely, since you're on Goodreads); have a tin ear for classical music; can't stand family feuds; have an aversion to humor, irony,or sacrilege, you need to get this book, in any language or version you prefer, and get cracking.




Garth Stein, the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain presents a long-awaited new novel in which a boy trying to save his parents’ marriage uncovers a vast legacy of family secrets.

Bookish.com shared this review of A Sudden LIght.....

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant whole trees and is set on a huge estate overlooking Seattle’s Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch the ailing and elderly Grandpa Samuel to a nursing home, sell off the house and property for development, divide up the profits, and........so it goes....

Secrets, hidden rooms, a dark past and unconventional characters contribute to this spellbinding novel.  Garth Stein has another best seller on his hands.

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I've been a fan of Jane Smiley for many years. She won the Pulitzer for A THOUSAND ACRES in 1992, probably her most famous book, which was also adapted to film. I've been waiting for something new and now she's come up with a trilogy.  Volume one combines history, births, deaths, betrayals...you name it!  Sounds like a never-ending story ...which is a good thing if you're into it.

BookPage interview Jane Smiley

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author (A Thousand Acres) launches an inventive and appealing new project with the first volume of a trilogy that will follow a single extended family through an entire century. Devoting one chapter to each year, Some Luck introduces readers to the Langdon family, with young Walter Langdon trying to scratch out a living on an Iowa farm when the story begins in 1920. Smiley writes about farm life with particular acuity, and her blend of historical detail and relatable characters will leave readers eager to see the story

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It's October and in one month it will be the anniversary of Joyce's Choices..What was I thinking?  For almost three years I've been blabbing about books...some people are listening and some are not...Who cares? I have over 40,000 viewers and lots of friends...the best kind of friends too, mostly silent! (Meaning, I don't get a lot of comments...)

And so the blabbing continues. Here's a few choices for October reads......

THE ASSASSINATION OF MARGARET THATCHER: Stories by Hilary Mantel (Fiction/Short Stories)
The latest work from the celebrated author of the historical novels WOLF HALL and BRING UP THE BODIES is a collection of 10 stories, Hilary Mantel’s first collection since 2003’s LEARNING TO TALK. Many of these contemporary tales play with the conventions of genre; there’s even a vampire tale. But the title story, about an imagined attempt on the former Prime Minister’s life, will, not surprisingly, get the most attention. 
THE NEWS SORORITY by Sheila Weller
THE NEWS SORORITY: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour -- and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller (Biography)
For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism. After fierce struggles, three women --- Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour --- broke into the newsroom’s once impenetrable “boys’ club.” Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, THE NEWS SORORITY reveals the hard struggles and inner strengths that shaped these women and powered their success. Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth, founder of HeadButler.com.

BURN: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (Thriller)
Back in the city that never sleeps, Detective Michael Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. But when a charred body is found in the same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously --- and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.


Ewan McEwan has done it again. THE CHILDREN ACT, his latest release, held my interest immediately...and that's saying a lot. My negative vibes usually kick in after a few pages.  Although Fiona, the main character needs a good kick in the pants! Hopefully she'll get her personal life together and stop acting like a doormat....

Here's a summary...

In the late summer of 2012, a British judge faces a complex case while dealing with her husband’s infidelity in this thoughtful, well-wrought novel.

Fiona Maye, at 59, has just learned of an awful crack in her marriage when she must rule on the opposing medical and religious interests surrounding a 17-year-old boy who will likely die without blood transfusions. The cancer patient, weeks shy of the age when he could speak for himself, has embraced his parents’ deep faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses and their abhorrence of letting what the Bible deems a pollutant enter his body. The scenes before the bench and at the boy's hospital bedside are taut and intelligent, like the best courtroom dramas. 

The ruling produces two intriguing twists that, among other things, suggest a telling allusion to James Joyce’s 17-year-old Michael Furey in “The Dead.” Meanwhile, McEwan (Sweet Tooth, 2012, etc.), in a rich character study that begs for a James Ivory film, shows Fiona reckoning with the doubt, depression and temporary triumphs of the betrayed—like an almost Elizabethan digression on changing the locks of their flat—not to mention guilt at stressing over her career and forgoing children. As Fiona thinks of a case: “All this sorrow had common themes, there was a human sameness to it, but it continued to fascinate her.” Also running through the book is a musical theme, literal and verbal, in which Fiona escapes the legal world and “the subdued drama of her half-life with Jack” to play solo and in duets. (Scroll down for another review and a graphic)

The following book recommendation was sent to me by a member of my summer book group. I trust her judgement.....

B said .....

I have just completed reading THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr for my West Hartford  book club.  It is a book not to miss! It is a poetic, lyrical, story taking place during WWII, spanning time from 1944-2014 in Germany and France, featuring a blind French girl and a German boy in alternate chapters.  The story reads like poetry, it flows like music and its emotional/intellectual range is satisfying and impressive. If you read it,  I can't wait to hear your reactions.......B