(Review) All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Genre: Historical fiction, France, World War II.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.
A National Book Award finalist.
All The Light We Cannot See won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
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Marie-Laure LeBlanc is blind. She is age 12 when the story begins. She and her father, a locksmith, leave Paris, France, when the Occupation of the Nazi's began. They travel to Saint-Malo, a port city in Brittany, France. Her father has a priceless and hidden jewel. They live with an eccentric uncle.
An orphaned German boy named Werner Pfennig becomes a cadet at a school in Germany. He has a gift for math and understanding radios.
Marie-Laure and Werner's paths will cross in 1944.
I loved the idea of the book more than the story itself.
I loved what I'd heard about the book more than reading it.
I've given the book 4 stars for very good. I did not feel it was a 5 star book for excellent.
- The main reason is the jumping back and forth and in between with the time periods. I was able to keep up with the time periods, but the chapters are short, sometimes two pages. When I felt apart of one period in time (apart of the story, invested), it stopped, jumping to another time period. I needed a longer pause in one place to view the characters and the present story.
- The second reason for giving All The Light We Cannot See 4 stars is the story-line is not wrapped up in a way I always understood. I backed up and reread chapters asking myself, what is really going on and am I missing something.
The story and characters are memorable and haunting.
The characters are living during a historical event they have no voice or power to control or escape.
There is symbolism in the story:
- Marie-Laure and Werner are teenagers in 1944. Youth is like spring. But war is a bleak, frozen, barren winter.
- The priceless gem reminds me of the priceless human life.
- The fortified city of Saint-Malo is liken to a city set apart, and Marie-Laure is like the princess of the city (a very unlikely princess) who is destined for a great task. On the other hand, the Nazi army is the dragon swooping in to devour.
All The Light We Cannot See is a coming of age story. Two youths with all their lives before them, yet make significant choices. Life-altering choices.