All The Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Publisher: Harper Collins
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.
This book deserves the attention it has been getting! Though it took me awhile to get into it, the beautiful imagery eventually took hold of me and didn’t let me go. The story follows Marie-Laure LeBlanc and her father who is the locksmith at the Natural History Museum of Paris. The other character is Werner Pfenning, a german boy.
The plot is set in WWII and the Nazis invade France causing Marie and her father to flee. Overall, the book won awards for a reason. It was beautiful and the picture it painted was outstanding. From Marie adjusting to her new condition, to the gut wrenching story of Werner and his recruitment into the Nazis.
The problem I have with this book is the jumping back and forth. It makes it difficult to read. And there wasn’t much action. No real suspense. The eventual coming together of characters wasn’t really satisfying. It was quick and painless. The chapters were short (which was great since there wasn’t too much compelling action). However, the beauty is within the words and the overall plot. Beautiful and will recommend.