There are books that are wonderful and then there are books that change the way you look at books. The History of Love changed the way I look at books.
I got this book from one of my closest friends; a friend I met late in life but without whom I could not exist as the person I am today. There is a person in the world who understands me so intimately and so terribly well, and it is this person who gave me this book.
The History of Love works so incredibly well as a piece of literary artistry because it taps into some of the greatest tension we as readers can experience, and it makes us fall in love. Krauss creates a character in Leo Gursky who we need to understand and who is so very hard to understand. That tension between what we know and what we want to know keeps us riveted. And she creates in Alma a character so in need of being understood, and yet so beyond understanding that the tension is magnified. It is this dual tension that fuels the novel.
The story of a story unfolding is also what The History of Love is about. It is a search for an answer, and we not only go on the journey of the search but we are participants in watching the searcher search. It is the ultimate multi-dimensional novel in this sense: we watch a watcher watching. We struggle to watch a struggler struggling. We become a part of the novel without even realizing it. This book became a part of me as I read it and for a long time after.
Any novel that has twists and turns cannot really be written about; it needs to be experienced. The experience I had allowing this novel to unravel into a perfect pile of chaos and meaning was a transformative one as a reader and as a lover of literature. The process of watching a novel grow before your eyes as you turn the pages is spectacular.
The History of Love changed my life because of the way it made me believe. It made me believe in friendship all over again, and it made me believe in literature too. But mostly, this novel made me believe all over again in the promise of love.
Through history, we learn. The History of Love chronicles the way we learn to trust, to understand, and to love. In this way, we become a part of history.
Mayim Bialik blogs at Grok Nation.