The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles. (2021).
**4.5 out of 5 stars**
Paris, 1939. Odile is obsessed with books, and her new job at the American Library in Paris – with its thriving community of students, writers and book lovers – is a dream come true. When war is declared, the Library is determined to remain open. But then the Nazis invade Paris and everything changes. Occupied Paris means choices that will put many on the wrong side of history with consequences that last for decades to come.
Montana, 1983. Lily is a lonely teenager desperate to escape small-town Montana. She grows close to her neighbour Odile and discover they share the same love of language. But as Lily uncovers more about Odile’s mysterious past, she discovers a dark secret, closely guarded and long hidden.
As a booklover, this story went straight to my heart. As a library worker, it spoke to my soul. I loved that this novel is based on a true story, and I’m so glad I’ve now learnt about this piece of history which I had no idea about before. The idea of rebel librarians delivering books to people who were banned from the library under Nazi regime is just amazing to me. The book alternates between two timelines, Odile’s (roughly 75 percent) and Lily’s (roughly 25 percent). I really enjoyed the relationship that grew between Odile and Lily, who both needed someone special in their lives for different reasons. In their respective storylines both main characters face huge changes in their lives with a lot of personal growth. There is a large cast of side characters that really flesh out the book and bring everything together; I think most readers will find the majority of characters intriguing and likeable.
I highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes historical fiction and/or stories involving the love of books.