Sunday, March 20, 2011

City of Thieves - David Benioff

I normally like to write my blog posts within a day or two of finishing a book, so I can be really true to how I felt upon finishing- instead of after having too much time to reflect on it - though sometimes that reflection is a marker of how "good" I thought a book was. Unfortunately, my schedule lately had preventing me from keeping up to date on my hopefully I'll be able to report reletively honestly about what I've been reading. City of Thieves was given to my by my friend Eleanor - and it was a perfect book to read with a newborn in the house - not because of the subject matter, but because of the ease with which the book is written. I thought perhaps this was Young Adult novel (and maybe it is), but it's a bit graphic in its discussion of violence and sex. The book is set during the German siege of Leningrad during WWII. The story is narrated by Lev, a young Jew who is imprisoned for looting a dead German paratrooper. While locked up, he meets Kolya, a charismatic soldier imprisoned for desertion. The two of them are promised their freedom and ration cards if they can somehow locate a dozen eggs to bake a cake for the wedding of a colonel's daughter. The impossible quest takes the two men through Leningrad and the countryside, as the encounter the best and worst of humanity brought out by the war. The story is filled with hilarious moments - as a reader I almost felt guilty laughing given the setting of the book. It reminded me of the movie Life is Beautiful in this way - a mix between gallows humor and trying to make the best of a truly bad situation. A real gem in the midst of tremendous tragedy.

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