The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

June 12, 2012
By Christina B BRONZE, Astoria, New York
Christina B BRONZE, Astoria, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The goosebumps I had after finishing the last page of this book stood raised on my arm for a good five minutes.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss will make you smile in awe, wrinkle your forehead in frustration and make your heart ache with a strange combination of happiness and sadness. There are many characters, ranging from the two main ones, Leopold Gursky and Alma Singer, to all the people in between who help twist the novel into the complicated story that it becomes.

We're taken through the daily New York City lives of Leo and Alma -- two separate characters who wind up having an astounding connection. Leo is an elderly aspiring writer hailing from Poland who once fell in love with a girl that he didn't get to spend the rest of his life with. Alma is an adventurous fourteen year old who is trying to discover the details of her late father’s life while simultaneously attempting to patch up her mother's loneliness.

The joy of reading this novel is in the element of surprise, so any more about the plot will be a spoiler. The beginning is somewhat of a slow read, but that completely changes once you reach the middle bulk and fast-paced ending. Krauss attaches you to the characters in ways unimaginable. She makes you both love them and feel as if you are them. That's quite the task to accomplish, seeing as the two main characters are so different.

One character that weighs down the page-turning is Alma's brother, who goes by the nickname "Bird." Though at first it seems like he'll play an important role, he turns out not to, and causes the book to drag at the end. Krauss makes every word count towards leading the reader to the wonderful surprise at the end and Bird is a letdown.

Finishing The History of Love will leave you nostalgic for what you just read. “Just as there was a first instant when someone rubbed two sticks together to make a spark,” Krauss writes, “there was a first time joy was felt, and a first time for sadness.”

You’ll be wishing you could read it again for the first time and jealous of those who get to.

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