What I’m Reading: All the Light We Cannot See

18143977From the bookjacket:
A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr’s gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work.

My review:
I’m ashamed to admit that I had originally started reading All the Light We Cannot See back in July. (Or maybe it was June?) To say I had a hard time getting into the story would be an understatement!

Regardless, the storyline eventually picked up and I couldn’t put it down. Doerr did a good job bouncing back and forth between storylines, which kept me engaged (once the storyline got interesting) and wanting to read on to find out what happens next to either Marie-Laure or Werner.

I really enjoyed how descriptive Doerr was in writing All the Light, which was expected since one of the main characters is blind. It was refreshing to have things described by smell or touch rather than just appearance, but even then Werner’s description of Marie-Laure was anything but basic.

I’m trying hard to think of something in particular that I didn’t like about this book, and other than the slow pace of it, there really isn’t anything. It gives a good perspective into life in German-occupied France during the war, and I think it’s important to remember how much fear there was during that time.

Overall, I give All the Light We Cannot See 4 stars out of 5.

 

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