All the Light We Cannot See
written by Anthony Doerr
published by Scribner
Did I enjoy this book: All the Light We Cannot See grabbed me and kept me reading. Doerr alternates the narratives of Marie-Laure and Werner, children in Europe during World War II. I had to stay with him and see how the stories converged.
This is one of those books that plays with the concept of blindness—Marie-Laure goes blind at a young age, but the memory of colors infuses her thoughts. There are other characters, though, with blind spots much bigger—and more dangerous—than Marie-Laure’s.
Werner has genius in his eyes and fingers. (“What you might have been!” Volkheimer says to Werner over and over again.) The question we wait to have answered is this: Does he have compassion?
And—are curses real? Can a piece of cold mineral—even a piece that has astronomical value—control and damn the lives it touches?
Would I recommend it: If you like a story that is carefully plotted, that marches toward a conclusion, that delivers a twist or two, you’ll enjoy All the Light We Cannot See. On the way, we care about Doerr’s characters, and we have to reflect on life—for ordinary, innocent, “pure” people—during war.
~ Pam, guest reviewer & EFC Short Story Contest Winner ~
About the book – from Goodreads: 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.