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.

Marcie's 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.

Becky's Review:  I kept hearing over and over again from various people how great this book was and that I should read it.  I've picked it up a couple times but have been a little put off by it's bulk.  Long books are somewhat daunting to me.  But my book club was reading it so I had to get it read.  Perhaps my opinion of the book started on a negative side because of the length and because I had such high expectations for the book since everyone LOVED it.  Needless to say, I did not love it.  It was so slow to start and I kept putting it down because I wasn't engaged with the characters at all.  But then I would pick it up again, read a little bit more and then put it down again.  I was told it was slow to get into but would pick up.  It never picked up for me but I couldn't abandon it as I thought it would get better and more exciting.  One of my major problems with the book was the two separate characters who seemed to have no connection to each other and were living completely separate lives.  I kept waiting for them to come together and when they finally did I thought the book would go in a completely different direction and then I would find the book satisfying but no, it was a completely unappealing ending and a very anticlimactic one.  I felt very let down by the end.  I did find the look into how Nazi soldiers were trained very interesting as most of the time books about WWII do not focus on the development of a German soldier.  That made this book a little more intriguing to me.  The time jumping threw me off as well and since there was so much book in between the time jumping, I would often forget where we left off.  I know I'm in the minority for not loving this book and maybe that means I don't like literary books but I'm fine with that.  I'd rather read books that go somewhere and are more satisfying.

Marcie's Rating: 5 stars

Becky's Rating: 3 stars

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