Whether you are on the wait list for Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See or you’ve already read it and are dying for a book that brings you the same lyrical beauty and one-of-a-kind characters, JMRL’s got you covered.
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer – Andras Levi is a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student in Paris, 1937. After promising to deliver a mysterious letter, he falls into a relationship with the letter’s recipient, learning secrets that will alter the course of his family’s history. Similarities: a similar setting and overarching tone that touch on the
large scale impact of WWIIl; family dynamics.
The Book Thief by Mark Zusak – In this compelling tale, Death narrates the story of Liesel Meminger, who becomes enraptured by books that have been banned in WWII Germany. Also great as an audiobook. Similarities: the tenderness and innocence of childhood against the hideous backdrop of WWII; amazing imagery.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra – “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.” When eight-year-old newly-orphaned orphan Havaa is found in the woods, she’s cared for by her father’s best friend, Akhmed. With Havaa, he seeks refuge at an abandoned hospital where the remaining doctor, Sonja, treats the wounded in Volchansk, Chechnya. Over the course of their days there, an unlikely connection will seal their fates together. Similarities: Shifting narratives which jump through time, ultimately revealing how these characters’ lives intersect in astounding ways.
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure – Although architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris, he can’t resist the challenge of devising secret hiding places for them, especially when a large sum of money is presented to him. When one of his hiding places fails, and the suffering of the Jews becomes personal, he can no longer ignore what’s really at stake. Similarities: Realities of war-time morals and obligations; the test of characters’ strengths; and interesting characters who find puzzles in everyday objects.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman – In a remote island off of Australia, a lighthouse keeper and his wife make a difficult decision when a baby washes ashore in a small boat. Similarities: Exquisite language that illuminates the setting, making you feel like you are right there with the characters.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – Sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses a murder that haunts her for the next fifty years, shaping her beliefs, her career, and her relationship with her mother. She uncovers her mother’s history piece by piece, which is interwoven with two strangers from vastly different worlds she met by chance in wartime London. Similarities: Interconnected lives, unfolding secrets, shifting narratives, and descriptive language.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – The competition between dueling magicians Celia and Margo intensifies as their attraction for one another grows. The elegant setting of the mysterious circus enhances this story, which is also a standout audiobook read by Jim Dale. Similarities: Morgenstern’s ability to transport readers into the story through her deft use descriptive language and settings; seemingly star-crossed prodigies are drawn together despite their backgrounds.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – In the days after civilization’s collapse, a small troupe of actors and musicians called the Traveling Symphony will find themselves tied together through a strange twist of fate. Similarities: Character-driven plot, shifting narratives that move back and forth in time to reveal major plot points.