On the upside, the main character Leo Gursky, who survived the Nazi invasion of his Polish village of Slonim by hiding in the woods for three years, surviving on worms and stolen potatoes, is so indelibly drawn by Nicole Krauss that now, sixty years later, you can hear the gravel in his voice and feel the sadness in his heart. Leo’s one and only love, Alma, slipped out of Poland just before the Nazi invasion and when Leo finally finds her in New York City after the war, he learns that Alma, thinking Leo had perished along with the rest of the villagers, has married another. For the next sixty years he pines for his lost Alma (Spanish, by the way, for soul.) If only the plot were so simple. Instead, there are novels within novels, sometimes even multiple versions of novels within novels, the question of who is speaking at any given time is revealed only by obscure glyphs above chapter headings, and the relationships between characters is so confounding that a reader will do well to map their connections. While there are scenes that float from the page, as real as Leo, the book as a whole is hard to follow without a scorecard.