This big adventure novel (684 pages) was published in April of 2014 by Random House. The book takes you to WWII-era Prague and New York City. Melissa read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
This story has everything we love in an epic, sweeping story: found family, lifelong friendships, heartbreaking betrayal, big adventure, lovely small moments — all told through the graceful writing of Michael Chabon.
It begins with a thrill. Inspired by the magician and escape artist Harry Houdini, a young Jewish boy in Prague — Josef ‘Joe’ Kavalier — has his little brother bind him in chains and toss him into the cold, dark waters of the Vltava River. It’s both a daring act of innocent faith and a metaphor for the darkness that’s about to invade his country in the late 1930s.
From there, the drama amps up as Joe escapes the Nazi invasion and is smuggled to New York City to live with his cousin in Brooklyn: Sammy Clay. Thus begins a life-defining friendship between the two. They bond over a love of comic books, and as they grow into men, their childhood pastime becomes a legitimate career that carries them from Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building.
But fate gets its due from everyone eventually. The partnership between Sammy and Clay is tested in ways they could never have foreseen.
This story soars through the decades and the boroughs of New York, capturing the energy of post-war America and landing hearty gut-punches to the feelings. It’s a tale of heroes — real and imagined. It explores the ways our lives meander and take shape as we’re living them. And it pays tribute to the many kinds of love to be found when we keep our hearts open.
But Josef, like many boys of nineteen, was under the misapprehension that his heart had been broken a number of times, and he prided himself on the imagined toughness of that organ. — Michael Chabon
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.