Renee Conoulty: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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 Marie-Laure 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.

Hey! Here's my review.

I'm not usually drawn to historical fiction which is probably why it took so long for me to finish this. I kept getting distracted by other books. It took me 3 months to read the first half, then this week I decided to finish it before I started anything else. Once I settled down and read more than two chapters in one sitting, I got right into it and finished the second half in 2 days. The chapters are very short and change perspectives, so you really need to read a few to get into the story. I found the jumps in time a little confusing to keep track of too. 

The story is told from the perspective of two children living through World War 2; a blind French girl and a clever German boy. This gives the book a more innocent feel, focussing on the children rather than the horrors of war. I liked that neither are portrayed as "good guys" or "bad guys", they are just young people trying to survive.
All the Light You Cannot See was awarded the Pulitzer prize for fiction.

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