I recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. The book follows two main characters – a blind French girl and a German orphan boy during WWII. The story is about their different lives but how their paths eventually collide.
Marie-Laure is a young girl living with her father in France. She suddenly goes blind at age 6 and then her father builds her a miniature version of their neighbourhood so that she may learn to navigate the neighbourhood by touch. Then the Nazi’s invade Paris and her and her father flee, and so begins their journey to Saint Malo, where her great-uncle, who is a recluse, lives. Marie-Laure’s father may carry with him, the most valuable jewel from the museum in Paris where he worked.
The young German boy Werner grows up in an orphanage with his sister Jutta. From a young age, Werner is obsessed with radios and how they work and he quickly becomes an expert at fixing and building radios. This lands him at an academy for Hitler Youth, and after that with a job tracking transmissions from the resistance. This eventually leads him to Saint-Malo where his and Marie-Laure’s paths will cross.
I particularly enjoyed the descriptive nature of the book. Because at least half of the story is told through the eyes of Marie-Laure, who is blind, she describes what she feels, senses, hears and smells beautifully. The level of detail that we get from the book because of this, is amazing. I could picture their neighbourhood in Paris perfectly, and later where Marie-Laure and her father lived with her great-uncle. Anthony Doerr delves into the two different sides of war through both Marie-Laure and Werner, and how ultimately there is a goodness in most people no matter which side they are fighting for.
I’d give this 4 stars out of 5. Buy All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel on Amazon.