Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano

In 1988, novelist Patrick Modiano notices an ad from a 1941 French newspaper about a missing 15 year-old girl and investigates to see if he can determine her fate. Dora Bruder, a French citizen born of Hungarian immigrant parents, runs away from a boarding school as the net closes around all Jewish people in Europe. What happened to her? Was she ever found?

Using spare prose, Modiano intertwines his life in Paris with Mademoiselle Bruder's, as he walks streets she surely walked, and tries to fill in the many blanks between the occasional official records where her name appears.  This book is heartbreaking in its simplicity, and devastating in its sparseness. There is so much we can never know about Dora Bruder, but we do learn how her story ends.

This slim, non-fiction book is a good counterpoint to All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a historical novel, as they are both about Jewish teenage girls  in France during WWII.

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