Okay, so there is this girl and of course she’s a teenage girl because nothing ever happens to a teenage girl that she can’t get the best of right? Oh and she is blind and she is Jewish in occupied France during World War II so the Nazis are not crazy about her to begin with. She lives in Paris with her Dad who works at a museum and there is this rare diamond that is cursed and then the Dad takes the diamond; not for himself of course but to keep it away from the Germans. He moves with his blind daughter and the diamond because that doesn’t put her in any danger right? They move in with his brother who is suffering from PTSD from the first World War and his French resistance maid. Again, very safe for his blind teenage daughter. He of course, the Dad that is, gets captured and imprisoned by the Germans and is questioned about the missing diamond. During this time the French resistance maid decides that a teenage blind girl is the perfect cover for transferring messages to be broadcast on the radio. Because, you know, that doesn’t put the blind teenage girl in any danger.
Oh wait, did I mention there was this boy? Yes, a young orphan German boy who, with his sister grows up in an orphanage. But he gifted in how to use a radio and how to find people who use radios. He is drafted into the German army, which his sister grows to hate him for, because somehow that was his choice. He watches as his best friend is beaten and broken because he is weak and his own value is due to his ability to work a radio is used by those who are his superiors. He ends up in France listening to a young girl read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and her own cry for help.
The two come together and the boy saves the blind girl but there are no happy endings here. Because war is bad and everything about war is bad. The boy dies. The girl goes on to be a professor but loses her whole family and the sister who hated the boy gets raped.
Okay, there you go. Pretty depressing. Realistic, perhaps for a time but the story pours tragedy upon tragedy and bleeds any sense of hope out of the reader. You find yourself not wanting there to be a herioc and good resolution but for the novel just to end. End their suffering and misery so as a reader, you can end yours.
There are other books about this period that are much better. The German Girl by Armando Correa comes to mind as does the Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith. Both of these I would recommend before this one.
Overhyped and well under delivered.