all the light we cannot seeOccupied France, 1944. The Allied invasion has begun, but the Germans continue to hold the tiny seaport town of Saint Malo, hanging on grimly. An American plane flies over the town, blanketing it with leaflets urging the residents to leave for the countryside immediately – the bombing of Saint Malo is about to begin.

In a tall house overlooking the sea, Marie-Laure waits for her uncle. She does not realize that he has been taken prisoner by the Germans and cannot return. She hears the plane, but she does not know what the leaflets say – Marie-Laure is blind and she is alone. Across town, Werner, a young German soldier, braces for the coming battle. More comfortable with radios and transmitters than rifles, Werner is an orphan from Berlin, thrown into the war machine to avoid a worse fate. Marie-Laure and Werner’s stories are about to intertwine.

All the Light We Cannot See follows both Marie-Laure and Werner from when they were children to their eventual meeting in Saint Malo, shifting between characters and through time. Filled with gorgeous imagery, real suspense and stunning twists, it is filled with sad and tender moments, flashes of joy and beauty and heartbreak, of the strange paths a life may follow and the long lasting effects of the horror of war. Highly recommended.

now i see youAt nineteen years old, Nicole C. Kear’s biggest concern is choosing a major – until she walks into a doctor’s office in midtown Manhattan and gets a life-changing diagnosis. She is going blind, courtesy of an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, and has only a decade or so before Lights Out.

Instead of making preparations as the doctor suggests, Kear decides to carpe diem and make the most of the vision she has left. She joins circus school, tears through boyfriends, travels the world, and through all these hi-jinks, she keeps her vision loss a secret. When Kear becomes a mother, just a few years shy of her vision’s expiration date, she amends her carpe diem strategy, giving up recklessness in order to relish every moment with her kids. Her secret, though, is harder to surrender – and as her vision deteriorates, harder to keep hidden. As her world grows blurred, one thing becomes clear: no matter how hard she fights, she won’t win the battle against blindness. But if she comes clean with her secret, and comes to terms with the loss, she can still win her happy ending.

Told with humor and irreverence, Now I See You is an uplifting story about refusing to cower at life’s curveballs, about the power of love to triumph over fear. But, at its core, it’s a story about acceptance: facing the truths that just won’t go away, and facing yourself, broken parts and all.(description from publisher)

homers-odysseyHomer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper is a closely observed tale of a tiny black kitten who lost his sight early in his life.

Beginning his life as a stray in South Beach, Homer’s eyes became so infected that his eyes had to be removed when he was eventually rescued and treated by a vet. The vet, after many failures, finds Gwen who instantly bonds to Homer, only a few weeks old.

His new owner has her own set of challenges, not only adapting her household physically (eliminating obstacles and clutter and padding sharp corners) but also integrating the  kitten with the two already ensconced feline inhabitants.

The author clearly adores the newest member of the family, but also studies Homer with a scientist’s eye for detail, as she works to understand the needs of her new kitten. She describes how his sense of hearing and touch compensate for his lack of sight.

Parts of the story are heartbreaking but Homer is the very essence of resilience. The author is careful not to attribute human attributes to her cats but obviously admires Homer’s bravery and his will to survive and thrive.

The book, Cooper says,  is written for “those who think that normal and ideal mean the same thing.”  They will come away with an appreciation of the “slightly left of…normal.”