From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
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.
I understand how this stunning book was 10 years in the making. Anthony Doerr creates a magnum opus. I have no idea what Doerr’s next project will be, difficult to image anything surpassing All the Light We Cannot See, given his incredible talent I anxiously await.
Never has a novel left me emotionally crippled, speechless and breathless all in one incredible whirlwind. Doerr’s imaginary and detailed writing leaves the reader hypnotized, the amazing aspect of the narrative is the fact Doerr leaves the reader to inject the emotion into his characters. Between the parallel alternating narrative of the two main characters, allowing the reader to connect the emotions with the protagonists, you submit yourself to one incredible impassioned journey.
All the Light We Cannot See carries the reader to the devastation of WWII. The conflict and pain suffered from both civilians and soldiers. The one question I kept asking myself while reading as well as long after was In the midst of the most horrific adversity, where my life is in jeopardy, would I hold to my principles or succumb to every thing I believed wrong in order to survive and save my life? Heavy question and that’s only one of many this magnificent narrative left me to ponder.
The story is bittersweet but it’s message is clear and Doerr accomplished it remarkably well. All the Light I Cannot See is a story against all odds, people trying to be good to one another. It’s also about doing the right thing for the right reasons, it’s about courage, adversity and love, the story is about so much.
I cannot do this novel justice, it is poignant, beautiful and masterfully crafted. A story that is unforgettable. Anthony Doerr penned a time honored narrative without a doubt, absolutely incredible.