20 July, 2015

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See

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.

Thoughts: A book that manages to look at the atrocity of World War II differently is always welcome. One that is beautifully written and compelling is to be celebrated. 
All The Light You Cannot See was a bit confusing at first, but as it became apparent that the flashbacks were slowly working towards the alternate chapters, I simply became fascinated with how we were going to get there. 
I also love Doerr's characters. Marie-Laure who found strength she did not know she had and  Werner who battled constantly with what he was asked to do - both of them children who are forced to grow up because of the brutality of war.  I also loved Marie-Laure's father and his clear devotion to his daughter and his drive to help her navigate her world. I admired so many of the characters and their determination to do what ever little thing they could to resist. 
Reading this book was like following two pieces of string, watching them grow closer together, waiting for them to cross, wondering if one would break. Doerr's description of Saint-Marlo has me adding it to my list of places to see. I want to stand on the beach Marie-Laure visited, walk the streets, witness the history of the place.
I can see this being made into a movie. It reminds me of The Book Thief, although in the end it is vastly different. I think it's partly because they are both books set in German occupied territory during WWII but without a focus on the persecution of the Jewish community or the holocaust. If they do film it, I hope they do a good job.

All The Light We Cannot See gets 4 stars.

 *        Did not like it
**       It was OK
***      Liked it
****    Really liked it
*****   It was amazing