all the light we cannot seeSynopsis from Goodreads:

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller 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 in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. 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, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

The Characters:

It’s easy to focus on the “extraordinary” people of WWII– the heroes, the people who performed extraordinary feats, those who brought horrible atrocities on others, ect. Doerr decided to write from the POV of the million of “ordinary” people– those who may not have performed acts of heroism, but rather lived to endure the war. Marie-Laure is a young, blind Parisian girl who escapes to Saint-Malo with her father, a locksmith from the Natural History Museum. What she doesn’t realize is that her father carries a unique gem rumored to make it’s holder immortal while bringing death to those around them. Concurrently, a young German boy unsure of his feelings toward the Reich finds himself in the elite ranks of the Hitler Youth after his skills in radio transmissions and repair are discovered among the top echelon of the Nazi Party. Despite being surrounded by the most devoted young Nazis (and thus presumed to be one of them), Werner continues to question what he sees around him and never seems to define his feelings toward the party.  This beautiful tale depicts the fear and uncertainty that defined the time while also highlighting the simple acts that helped bring down the Reich.

All the Light We Cannot See Review Box

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