All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

all-the-light-we-cannot-seeBook Synopsis:

Published May 6 2014 | 530 pages

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller 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 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.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times)


Review: 4 heart-broken stars

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

There are some books that really make you stop and think about life, yours and the untold lives of others. Stories that hang around in your brain for months after you finish it because the characters and the storyline affected you that deeply. I think that this is one of those books.

This book does not have the same tempo that I’m used to reading; it lacks those big action scenes and the page turning tension that usually keeps me up late at night reading. In fact, when I first started reading this I struggled … but that didn’t last long. Instead of heart-stopping action scenes, All the Light You Cannot See has something else – it has incredibly beautiful and imaginative writing coupled with a haunting storyline.

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

Anthony Doerr tells a story of a two young characters; a young blind Parisian girl named Marie-Laure and an orphan German boy named Werner. Their narratives are told side-by-side, jumping back and forth through time from the beginning of WWII to the end, invisibly intersecting in complex ways. Anthony Doerr did a spectacular job of writing these characters; he vividly detailed the innocence and curiosity of two bright young children on the opposite sides of a war whose childhoods and futures was stolen from them.

I think that’s what really stuck with me – the story of these two children, children with an unremarkable place in history, who had a huge amount of potential but their lives were stolen from them. Their identities were taken and their struggle to hold onto that identity, hold onto their dreams and be the person they want to be during wartime is a really beautiful one.


4 stars black

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