Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Beautifully descriptive, always hopeful, it’s no wonder this book has been on so many readers’ waiting lists. There are two stories, with two main protagonists coming of age during World War II in Europe. One is Marie-Laure, a blind Parisian girl who lives with her father, the master locksmith of the Museum of Natural History. Her father has lovingly created a completely perfect miniature of their town so Marie can learn to navigate on her own. When the two are forced to flee Paris, he creates a miniature replica of their new town, Saint-Malo, the walled port city in Brittany that is bombed by the Nazis. The miniature house has major significance as everything comes together in the final chapters of the novel. Werner is an orphan living in a small minding town Germany. He and his sister Jutta are fascinated by radios, and have created their own out of scrap material, which they listen to secretly from the attic after bedtime in the orphanage. They are both mesmerized by a science program for children, narrated by a Frenchman. This thread foreshadows how the two stories ultimately converge.
Doerr captures the internal lives of these two young people so vividly, along with many other characters throughout the book. It’s one of those novels that is hard to put down, yet sad to finish.
reviewed by Susan Leto