Title: All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Genres: Historical Fiction, War, Adult
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.
At the beginning, I had a really difficult time getting into this novel. It started off slow and didn’t peak my interest until a few chapters in. I mainly kept going since so many people had rave reviews about it.
Moving on with this novel, I found it was written beautifully. I loved the way Doerr painted pictures of Marie-Laure’s surroundings, feelings, how she would basically learn to live her life to know where she was going and to find her way home. She had such a significant impact on her father and uncle’s lives.
The point of view shifted consistently. When I would return to read this novel, I sometimes was sitting there wondering who specifically I was reading about, but I also enjoyed seeing the different perspectives of other people. I enjoy more linear plot structures, so as much as this sometimes confused me, the challenge of reading this type of shift in focus for plots kept me intrigued and to keep going. I really wanted to know how this novel ended.
Werner’s story, I found, much more sad than Marie-Laure’s, and his was so intriguing to me. It was really interesting to see how the Natzi’s were portrayed to ‘teach’ youth in this era for their cause, and it really gives so much depth into characters and the war itself, in my opinion.
This novel really gets you to see how each side of the war feels the effects. One day, you’re living normally, going about your routine like Marie-Laure and her father, and the next you are packing your things moving and wondering where you will sleep and eat next. It portrays the upheaval of war very well. On the other hand, it portrays the way in which Natzi Germany changed as well with the training of their soldiers and how they are pitted against one another even though they are ‘brotherhood’ in a sense.
A very compelling, different novel. I wouldn’t regard it as my favourite of 2016 so far, but it was a good read and I’m sure I’ll re-read it again at one point or another.
Overall, I give this novel a 3.5/5.
<h4? Have you read this novel? What were your opinions of it? Did you love it? Let me know!
Please note, all opinions are my own.