Tuesday, November 25, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See

Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary (from the publisher):  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.

Review:  I don't have the words to describe how beautiful this book was.  You should read it.

Okay, I did have a few complaints about this book, but it was such a deeply moving story with truly beautiful descriptions, and that is what I'll remember for years to come.  Well, the other thing I'll remember is that I wasn't entirely happy with the ending; while I think it was the only ending possible for Werner, that doesn't mean I have to like it.  There was also a fair amount of jumping back and forth between different characters and different times, and I found that needlessly confusing.  But, oh, I felt so connected to the characters, even though I had absolutely nothing in common with them, that their hard decisions and their losses touched a cord in me and made me cry along with them.  And the writing was just lovely, so descriptive and lyrical.

Rating: 5 stars

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