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Book Review: The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

I first fell in love with Julie Orringer's work while in graduate school when I read How to Breathe Underwater. Ever since I read that book, I would occasionally look in bookstores or hunt online for new work from Orringer. Finally, my quest resulted in finding her novel The Invisible Bridge, though I'm a bit late to the party as it came out January 2011. But if I'd found it then or finding it now, it sure was worth the wait.

Orringer's prose, spellbinding as ever, draws readers into the story of the Hungarian Lévi brothers, particularly Andras, as they scatter to different parts of Europe when the continent hangs on the brink of World War II and the fate of Jews becomes ever more precarious. We follow Andras to Paris where he has received a scholarship to study architecture. The novel wooed me with the charm of unworldly Andras soaking in Paris and all that comes with it--school, good friends, theater work, and love. I became so enraptured with his experience in that magical city that the inevitable changes that must come about in his life, and that of so many others, as Europe descends into war hit me like anvil.

With her singular integrity, deft-handed description, and strong character development, Orringer shows us the struggles of the Lévi family and those near and dear to them as Europe endured the horrors of Hitler's plans for the continent and the fate of Jews and millions of others. The story is one of innocence and innocence lost, grief and hope. I would heartily recommend this novel and anxiously await Orringer's next literary work.




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