Stories that intertwine are always fascinating, but often encounter difficulties in their execution. Not only do the stories need to intertwine in a way that makes sense but they need to show that the intertwining has a purpose. Often authors will fall short on the latter, but not Doer, who masterfully, unspools storylines that span more than a thousand years, from the fall of Constantinople, to a small town in Idaho some five hundred years later and on to the not so distant future. Using a manuscript to tie these disparate stories together, Doer dedicates his book to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come.”
Omeir, a farm boy, was conscripted by the invading army, along with his beloved oxen, to carry the machines of war to the walls of Constantinople. In the aftermath, his oxen dead and traumatized by the horrors of war, Omeir begins his journey back to his village. Along the way, he literally runs into Anna, a thirteen year old orphan fleeing the city. He soon finds that she is carrying with her pages from an amazing book about Atheon who longs to be turned into a bird so he can find utopia in the sky. Omeir is entranced by the story, but knows that the villagers who do not know how to read will not understand such magic. Fearing for Anna’s life, they hide the book carefully in the an old tree and only get it out occasionally to share with their children.
Five hundred years later, an elderly man named Zeno, has been carefully translating a book about Atheon. The Greek manuscript has only recently been discovered and Zeno who learned to read and write Greek while a prisoner of war, has found the exercise of translation calming and soul satisfying. Encouraged by the librarian, he has passed on his excitement for this story and for translating to a group of five unruly children who visit the library regularly. In fact Zeno helped them write a play based on his translation and they had plans to perform it. The only problem is that a troubled teen named Seymour has planted a bomb on the shelves of the libraryto protest the new development on the outskirts of town which is destroying the forest and the natural habitat of his beloved owl.
Konstance lives with her family on the interstellar ship, Argos. She has never lived on earth and only knows things about it because of the vast digital library on board the Argos. There she can access incredible amounts of information about earth; its history, and culture and the living things that inhabit it. But after a health emergency causes her to be isolated from everyone on the ship, Konstance, begins to see anomalies in the library as she searches for a book about Atheon, whose story her father used tell her.
Doer uses the story of Atheon to bind these disparate pieces together, but never loses sight of his characters, developing each one fully. Doer has definitely grown as a writer. Although, All the Light We Cannot See, won the Pulitzer Prize, I think this book is more soulful and meaningful. The themes of knowledge, history, and redemption are stronger and more poignant, while the plot line drives our attention and interest more strongly. This is a must read!
Brenda’s Rating: ***** (5out of 5 Stars)
Recommend this book to: Everyone!
Books study worthy? Yes!
Read in ebook format.