All The Light We Cannot See
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‘All The Light We Cannot See’, by Anthony Doerr, is an incredibly moving story of a blind French girl (Marie-Laure) and a German boy (Werner) whose paths collide during the second World War.
Both Marie-Laure and Werner have very different struggles as the war begins to devastate Europe. Marie-Laure re-locates to her Uncle Etienne’s house in Saint Malo from Nazi-occupied Paris, while Werner escapes his poverty-stricken orphanage in Germany by securing himself a place in a Hitler-Youth Academy.
Marie-Laure begins to go blind at a young age, and has to learn to navigate the world in a completely different way, with the help of her father, who works at a museum. Young, determined and capable, she finds solace in the wonder of the outside world – feeling her way through sounds, smells and miniature models of the city, made by her father.
Eventually, Marie-Laure and her father must flee to her reclusive Uncle’s house, who lives in a tall building on the coast of Saint Malo.
Across the border, Werner lives in an orphanage with his younger sister Jutta. Inquisitive and exceptionally bright, Werner tinkers with old radios, fixing an old one up to listen to with Jutta. They listen to a nightly science program together, which inspires Werner, who writes down his many questions about the universe in a small journal.
Werner’s talent with fixing radios soon makes him popular in the village, and his skills in math eventually win him a spot at a coveted Hitler-Youth Academy – where he can escape an otherwise gloomy life of coal mining in the village.
Eventually, Werner finds himself amidst the action, helping Germany locate radio signals from the enemy, where he sees first hand just how damaged the country has become.
‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a true work of art. The parallel lives of Marie-Laure and Werner are wonderfully written – it is teeming with detail and single moments that took your breath away. The back and forth story-telling by Anthony Doerr provides a stark insight into how utterly different the lives of two young people can be.
The story-telling in this novel was incredibly detailed, reminding the reader that there is an unseen world all around us, filled with love and loss and everything in between.
Although heart-breaking at moments, this novel was beautiful and truly moving to read. This novel writes in a way that made it easy to see just how easily our fates can be woven and unwoven, without ever knowing what could have been.