read this book | the history of love

i’m a sucker for a complex story — one that weaves itself through different times, places, people.  i love seeing how it all comes together, how something simple and true can be teased out of the chaos of seemingly disparate elements.

the history of love, by nicole krauss, is such a story.  from the title, you might guess that this book has something to do with love, and you would be right.  what you don’t know it that the title is also the title to a book in the story.  a book that’s as central to the story as any of the characters.  a book about love, and loss.

she was gone.  and all that was left was the space where you’d grown around her, like a tree that grows around a fence.

for a long time, it remained hollow.  years, maybe.  and when at last it was filled again, you knew that the new love you felt would have been impossible without alma.  if it weren’t for her, there would never have been an empty space, or the need to fill it.

the book itself is a bit of a mystery.  who wrote it?  how did it find its way here and there?  in the span of 70 years and three continents, this book ends up pushing each of the characters forward in their search for truth.  and somehow, somewhere along they way, they all end up saving each other —

a polish survivor of the holocaust who does not want to die alone and unnoticed; a teenage girl who struggles to come to terms with the loss of her father; a solitary, exiled writer haunted by nightmares of the holocaust; a lonely boy who believes that god has destined him for great things.

as complex as it may sound, it’s actually quite profound in it’s simplicity –  just like all the things that truly matter.

really, there isn’t much to say.

he was a great writer.

he fell in love.

it was his life.

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