For someone who has very little interest in any kind of period novel, let alone one that is set around the events of the Holocaust, which is a subject that has been picked to the bone marrow over the years in books and movies, I am surprised at how much I like Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge. This massive book is anything but a retread of familiar themes that you might find in any fictional story surrounding the Holocaust. While it does not really create anything new from such a familiar setting, but it is just so readable that it never gets boring and it immediately sucks you into this grand world of Europe in the 1930’s even if you have no interest in that time period and have seen it characterized so many times before. The story revolves around Andreas; an aspiring architect who has earned a scholarship to study at a prestigious school in Paris called the Ecole Speciale. He comes from a working class family in a small town in Hungary called Konyar, where his family owns a lumber company. Before he can go to Paris, he has a run-in with a woman and her old mother that leads him to the job of delivering a letter to the woman’s son, who is also and art student. He does so, not realizing that the implications of this letter will lead him on a path toward finding the love of his live in the form of Claire, a woman ten years older than him who teaches ballet in her apartment. We see the ups and downs of this relationship in the forefront to the many things that happen among their large groups of friends as well as the tumultuous political climate of Europe as it leads toward WWII. We finally see the two get together and marry, only for their romance and life, as they know to be interrupted brutally by the onslaught of the coming Holocaust. As I said, this book is rarely anything but mesmerizing as we see the build-up and eventual destruction of the things that Andreas loved at the hands of circumstances. A theme that is strong throughout this book is the idea of luck being just as an important key to survival than the will to live. Not all of the people that Andreas meets on his way throughout the brutal labor camps that we see in the last half of the book are bad, although most of them are. Sometimes he comes across a kind soul amongst the savages who is able to give him some kind of chance to live and salvage what he loves from the rubble, only to be once again brutally whisked away toward an unknown future and away from his family, leading to a bittersweet ending with only a few loved ones surviving the horrors they were forced into. Ultimately a hopeful book highlighting the ways in which chance and coincidence can shape our lives for worse and better, this is the perfect book to get lost in during the summer.