Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
Peace was a talented young African-American man who escaped the slums of Newark for Yale University, only to succumb to the dangers of the streets -- and of one's own nature -- when he returned home. When Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with Peace, his college roommate for four years. Peace's life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, and he carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, "fronting" in Yale and at home. Through an honest rendering of Peace's relationships, Hobbs examines the collision of two fiercely insular worlds.
The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.
Twin brothers Yarik and Dima have been inseparable since childhood. Living on their uncle's farm after the death of their father, the boys once spent their days in collective fields, their nights spellbound by their uncle's mythic tales. A breathtakingly ambitious novel of love, loss, and light, set amid a spellbinding vision of an alternative Russia as stirring as it is profound.
Social justice issues are the focus of both the winning and runner up nonfiction works in 2015: Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League, by Jeff Hobbs. In fiction, the winning work The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil is set in an alternative present; while the runner-up, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, traverses Europe during the second world war and the years leading up to it. Both novels break past simple limitations of fictional realism to explore the possibility for metaphysical connections between people. The 2015 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award recipient, Gloria Steinem is author of relatively few books, but has a large body of shorter writings on equal rights issues that spans over fifty years. Click on the honoree’s name in this paragraph for more information and video of acceptance speech.
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