All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
All the Light We Cannot See is in my top 5 books read in 2015, so far. I listened to the Audible version and thought the narrator was perfect; I could always tell who was speaking. Although some reviewers complain about how the book skips around in time and character, I actually liked it. It went from Marie-Laure to Werner from the present to the past, alternating. I like how it all came together. Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her father and Werner lives in Germany with his sister and in an orphanage type of home. Marie-Laure became blind at age 6 and her father builds her a model of her neighborhood so she can become independent and find her way around. He works in the National Natural History Museum in Paris and Marie-Laure learns her academics from her father, from reading, and from the museum. Despite her blindness, she is very, very intelligent and loves to learn. Werner is also an extremely intelligent boy and is fascinated with radios. He learns to repair them and build them, to the point where the townspeople bring their radios to him to fix. When World War II breaks out, Werner is selected to go to an exclusive state school and when he finishes he goes into the Army where he is to find resistance people through their radio transmissions. Marie-Laure and her father leave Paris and go (with a valuable gem from the museum) to St. Malo, where her great-uncle, Etienne, lives, and where she lives out the rest of the WWII. Her uncle was a fascinating character. He was a WWI veteran who has not left his home in 24 years and is agoraphobic. He is wonderful to Marie-Laure and his back story, with his brother (her grandfather), is very interesting. As the story develops, you will discover how Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives will intertwine and how the war affects each of them. The French resistance movement plays a large part in the book, as does some fantasy surrounding the gem/diamond they are guarding. I didn’t really expect what happened towards the end (no spoilers!), but I also was not surprised. I found the book fascinating and from a different perspective of the war than that which I have previously read about. It will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend it.
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