Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss

I recently read "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss, a touching story that parallels the life of Leo Gursky, an old man whose life was filled with missed chances and loneliness, and Alma Singer, a teenaged girl struggling to live without a father while simultaneously trying to keep him in her memory. Throughout the novel, the reader is presented with passages from a mysterious book called "The History of Love", the main character of which is named Alma. Alma Singer is told early on in her life that this book was cherished by both of her parents and that she was named after the main character because of her parents' strong connection to the novel. Leo Gursky is presented as an elderly man who immigrated to New York City from Poland during World War II, becoming a locksmith and regretting all his life his missed opportunity to live happily ever after with his true love. While Leo Gursky prepares to die a lonely death, Alma Singer vigorously searches for the Alma she was named after, driven by her curiosity while unconsciously trying to hold onto her father's memory. After a series of exposed secrets and illuminated pasts, both Alma Singer and Leo Gursky are eventually united by both their love of and strong connection to "The History of Love". The novel's ending is one of the most bittersweet encounters I have ever read. Although the plot becomes confusing at times and it is important to pay close attention to details, the novel is a work of art that transcends generational gaps and unites the characters through the power of a single book and its profound meaning to each. Provoking an array of emotions, the novel is more than a love story but rather a representation of the profundity of human relationships and more importantly the power of literature in its ability to inspire and connect.

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