Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review: All the Light we cannot See by Anothony Doerr

A Story of War and the Lives of those who are Impacted

There are many stories of World War II and there have been many that have gone beyond the story of the Holocaust specifically and are often real tear jerkers. One that sticks in my mind is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, which followed the lives of those who were in the resistance in France. In some ways, All the Light we Cannot See remind me of this different perspective as it follows the lives of both a young girl who is blind, and a German boy, a Nazi soldier, in alternating stories. While at first it seems implausible that their lives will intersect, of course they do, as their paths cross during a battle to gain control of the walled citadel of Saint-Malo.

Marie-Laurie's story begins in Paris, where her father is the master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When she begins to go blind at six, her father makes it his mission to help her adapt to the world so she can continue to be independent. This includes building models of their city, in miniature so that she can learn the routes to everything. Because of the war, they are forced to leave the city she has learned to navigate independently, fleeing to Saint-Malo, to live with a great uncle by the sea. Unbeknownst to Marie-Laurie, her father has helped to smuggle a treasure from the museum to prevent it from falling into the Nazi's hands.

Werner is an orphan who is trying to escape the bleak future of the mining company that he will have to join as soon as he is old enough to work. It's the future for every local, and there aren't many choices for an orphaned boy. He finds an old broken radio that he manages to fix and this demonstrates an aptitude for mechanics and science which can be his way out of the town for him and his sister. This radio also provides a lifeline to the outside world, while the Nazis are beginning to come into power. Becuase of his talents, he is discovered and ultimately is awarded a spot in an academy for Hitler Youth, and ends up serving in the war, using his skills with radio equipment and numbers. Werner sees the brutality of his role as he tracks the resistance, leading him to Saint-Malo.

Both of their stories were fascinating and the moment that they merge is the culmination of the building plots. There ends up being more than one connection. The prose in this story is lyrical, even in the brutality and tragedy of war.

I highly recommend this book. I don't think I could say enough about it. Despite the subject, I found empathy not just for Marie-Laurie but for Werner as well. This is a testament to the author's ability to really make these characters living beings with dreams, loves and hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment