Review: All the Light We Cannot See

Posted: 29/06/2015 in book reviews, books
Tags: , ,

All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content warnings: mentions of the holocaust, death, war, suggestion of rape, antisemitism, suicide through landmine mention

This was a very emotionally draining book. Good but emotionally draining. And mostly because of the subject matter.

The first mention of antisemitism comes from children on page 39. The rest of the book from that point on until the last few chapters is leading up to World War 2 and Germany invading/occupying France during World War 2. With side detours into Poland and Russia and Ukraine.

We get two different perspectives through MOST of the book. Nearer to the end we get two more perspectives that have been built off of one of the main perspectives. And in one chapter we get another off that same perspective.

One of the perspectives is Marie-Laure Leblanc who is a Parisian girl whose father works at the National History Museum (or something like that) who winds up going blind at around age 6 or so. I don’t believe it mentions the specifics on the how she goes blind but it’s heavily alluded to in conjunction with the super rare diamond (called The Flame of the Sea or something like that). I don’t remember much of her mother being mentioned as to why she’s not there or anything. Regardless though her father is the locksmith at the museum and Marie-Laure basically grows up there for part of her childhood. After she goes blind she learns to read in Braille and her father makes a wooden copy of their part of Paris for her and teaches her with it how to get around their area of Paris. After they wind up having to flee to Saint-Malo, her father builds her another replica of the town so she can learn to get around. Which, personally, I think that’s a great idea for the time period (and could potentially be great for now a days).

The other perspective is that of Werner Pfennig. And his story of growing up an orphan with his sister after their father dies in the coal mines in the town they live in in Germany. It tells of him learning he’s good with his hands and at fixing things. He winds up eventually fixing a German officer’s radio when no one else could and the officer winds up getting him a spot in the audition/interview for the Hitler Youth Academy. He winds up getting in and his talent for fixing radios gets noticed by teachers and he gets to help in the lab building them and learning trigonometry at night. Eventually he’s put into the Wehrmacht as a radio operator to help take down enemy radios.

I enjoyed the flipping back and forth between the perspectives. Both were interesting and horrifying in their own ways. I also enjoyed the flipping between the time periods because it made me actually HAVE to pay attention to what time period during the war we were talking about. I mean it would have been fine had the author NOT done that but I think some of the magic of the book might have been lost for me.

All in all it was a very compelling story that I enjoyed and would recommend to people who aren’t too terribly affected by the above content warnings.

Buy it here:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble

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