Feb 03, 2021darladoodles rated this title 5 out of 5 stars
Odile seems to be just a reclusive old lady living next door. Lily is in junior high and has not interest in getting to know her until her family is in crisis. Told in dual storylines from WW II and the mid-1980's, this story of two women and the way their lives intersect is told with stellar timing. Both believe in their own way that their world is a certain way and are determined to break out. What neither one realizes is the part others in their circles play in their story. I picked this book up, because of the library angle and it did not disappoint. Libraries all over the world have many similar tales to tell and it was easy to see some parallels between a library during wartime and a library in the midst of a pandemic.
What I found most compelling about this book were some of the little things that were really much more important later: the red belt, birds (crows, robins, etc.), those anonymous notes that seem to grow in weight as the book continues, leeks vs. rutabags, and more. Finally a word about books like this that give us a glimpse of those who may not have been on the "heroes" list once the Paris occupation was done. Many books tell the stories of those who did extraordinary things, but there were also everyday people who may have made mistakes. They may not have grasped the opportunity for greatness when it was in front of them. (A good read alike that explores themes like this is 'Paris Never Leaves You' by Ellen Feldman.) We deal with it now. Decisions which may seem small like wearing a mask, getting a vaccine, voting for a particular candidate, not buying goods 'Made In China,' etc. may be much more significant when we look back on them in the rearview mirror. As Janet Skeslien Charles so wisely points out in her notes at the end of the book, what is more important is to 'treat people with dignity and compassion.'