TITLE: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
LENGTH: 530 pages
PUBLISHED IN: 2014
GENRE: historical fiction (France, Germany, WWII, soldiers, occupation, war)
REASON FOR READING: local library book club pick
SUMMARY (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 she 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.
MY THOUGHTS: My favorite war to read/learn about is WWII, so it was no surprise when I found this book really interesting. It was a quick read. The story reads from three simultaneous storylines, but mostly going back and forth between the young French girl Marie-Laure and young German boy Werner. The chapters are very short, and the sections of the book go from the day they meet back to the beginning of how their lives first became connected. I was constantly intrigued because I wanted to know how they finally meet, if that was the case because I wasn’t sure it would end that well.
The only part I didn’t like about the book was the end, when we jumped from 1944 to the 1970s, and then further to 2014. Had this been an epilogue, I might not have even read it. I don’t usually like big time jumps like this. I actually would personally prefer for the story to end with a little mystery so I can think what I like about the characters’ futures. So, once the story hit the end of the 1944 section, I would’ve rather just had the story finish. No continuing from 1944 to 1945 with a completely undeveloped minor character and then on to 1974 and 2014. There was an air of mystery in the end, but not enough for me…