All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Summary from Goodreads: 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 Marie-Laure 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.
My Thoughts: This is a book I was looking forward to reading since it came out, and I am so glad that I enjoyed it. I have always loved Historical Fiction novels and ones set around WWII have drawn my attention since I was a kid. I thought the perspectives of this book did a wonderful job showing so many attitudes towards the war in Europe. There were German characters who looked to war with enthusiasm and wanted to fight, others that saw the larger picture of dictatorship and cruelty, and yet others who get caught up in the events because they thought it couldn’t possibly get that bad. Then the French characters had just as much variety ranging in their beliefs of safety and their involvement in resistance. One of my favorite analogies of evil coming into the world is that if you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps out. But if you put a frog in regular water and then slowly turn up the heat, it cooks. This is the overall theme of the book for the characters on both sides of history.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the jumpy writing style. The book jumps between characters and back and forth through time, so sometimes I was frustrated that thoughts and events weren’t being completed. However, I acknowledge that this is a style that is supposed to keep me interested and want to keep going to find out what happens, but I still would have wanted to keep reading even if I wasn’t being “teased” with the end of the story. If the book would have only jumped characters but not time I would have enjoyed the process of reading it a lot more. Overall, I still really loved it and am glad this is one of the rare books I had a chance to purchase so I can keep it and read it again in a few years.
Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.