Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

This was another book with quite a buzz behind it. I must admit to attempting it at camp and being unable to get into the story. It takes a bit of concentration and focus to follow the time shifts in the introductory section of this novel. But, once I got to the 100th page, I was hooked and desperate to follow the story further. I stayed up well into the night reading this one.

Anthony Doerr skillfully weaves the stories of two individuals until they intertwine in a final emotion-filled moment. Marie-Laure is a French girl who loses her sight at the age of six. Her loving father, a keeper of keys at the Museum of Natural History, builds a miniature replica of her neighborhood so she can memorize the streets and learn how to get around on her own. When the Nazis come to occupy Paris, she and her father flee to the town of Saint-Malo, taking with them a valuable piece from the museum for safekeeping.

In the meantime, Werner Pfennig is growing up at an orphanage in Germany. He is a precocious boy with an uncanny ability to repair radios and a great dream to become an engineer. The war provides a way of escape from his life when he is offered a place at a prestigious school for Hitler Youth. Despite his great dreams of doing something powerful with his life, he is resigned to the brutality he experiences at the school and is eventually sent to the front lines to assist in tracking the radio use of the enemy.

Someone is after the valuable stone and Marie-Laure finds herself alone with the menacing individual. When Werner and Marie-Laure finally meet, the reader is transported to the culmination of so many building events in the lives of these two separate characters. By the time I reached the end of the story, I was thrilled to have stuck with it because it was a wonderful tale. The author did a fine job of developing the characters and building suspense. He faithfully painted the war, all while presenting loads of information about various things like radios and birds and shells. It was a hauntingly beautiful story and one I would happily read again in a few years' time.

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