2017 Apr 10
A gripping story 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. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo. 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. Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.
Historical fiction at its finest, Anthony Doerr has created a spellbinding masterpiece. The backdrop and setting of World War II has made its way into innumerable books of fiction. However, Doerr has managed to craft a wonderfully unique story. ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ explores the horrors of the war through two protagonists who belonged to opposite sides of the conflicts and yet somehow cross paths in a magical way. Through the innocence of a young boy with a flair for mechanics, Doerr manages to capture the true dilemma of the many Nazi officers who played a role in the tragedy.
Ten years in the writing, the novel explores the effects of the war through the blind eyes of a young girl trapped in its midst. Doerr’s uncanny ability with words describes the physical world around the character in a fascinating way. For some readers, the novel may be slightly slow paced, yet the burning desire to reach the end perseveres. The book further parallels between two timelines and the perspectives of a number of characters, so the reader must keep track of the dates at the beginning of each chapter. Nevertheless, the journey through the war is highly interesting, with an increasing curiosity for readers to know what events led the characters to their current positions and what will happen after the dates have aligned.