All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a tour de force, and I highly recommend it. He “deftly interweaves the lives of Marie-Laure (blind girl) and Werner (talented orphan), he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.” (cover blurb) All this against the backdrop of World War II, France and Germany. This book is splendid, well written, and will keep you turning pages.
Marie-Laure went blind at age six but this didn’t limit her world. Her father, the key master for the Natural History Museum, builds her a miniature model of their neighborhood so she can memorize it and navigate her way in the neighborhood. At age twelve, she and her father must flee the Nazi occupation in Paris. They go to an uncle’s citadel by the sea in Saint-Malo. There they are protected and Marie’s father might be guarding the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
Meanwhile, Werner is a radio expert, a talent which gains him stead in Hitler Youth and a special intelligence assignment in tracking the resistance. “More and more aware of the human cost of this intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, and finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.” (cover blurb)
This is a very personal and heartwarming story. Yes, the backdrop is war and there is sorrow and pain involved, but also resilience and hope. You will enjoy and root for Marie-Laure, her father and uncle, and Werner, the pale persistent boy. The magic of radio – voices in the night – is a shining beacon. You will track the myth of the dangerous diamond – who has it, who wants it, who will find it, and who will win?
In All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr shines with his words and characters. He illuminates the way, and you will enjoy the journey.