The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is at first glance a lengthy coming of age tale of two boys struggling to find themselves during World War II in New York City. But that simplified thesis would be trivializing the myriad rich undercurrents that pervade this lovely novel.

The Amazing Adventures gives the reader a rare glimpse into life as a Jew in America during the war years, removing the crux of the story from the concentration camps and ghettos, but weaving in historical clippings so deftly that you almost feel the iron-toed throbbing of the Gestapo troops pulsating at the edge of each page. The novel also sensitively, and almost as a second thought, deals with the sexual awakening of one of its heroes, who inevitably struggles against his homosexual desires. And to add yet another current to this richly layered book, the intercalary chapters recounting the trials and travails of comic book super heroes are expertly woven and paired with the other main themes of the story– racism, escapism, personal empowerment, sacrifice.

Michael Chabon is a beautiful novelist who is able to craft a story that deals with countless heady themes in a way that is easily digestible and highly enjoyable. The love he harbors for the characters he creates is scrawled over each and every page, and by the end of this mammoth 650 page novel, you find that the characters have endeared themselves to you so wholly that you’ll never be able to forget them.