All the Light We Cannot See

Finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.”

Oh wow, this book.

Pretty much every actively literate person I know has already read this and has raved about it.  I have no excuse for not having read it before.  (Fortunately, thanks to (a) receiving it as a birthday present and (b) it getting chosen as a book club book, this FINALLY HAPPENED.)

Obviously because it’s set during World War II, there is a lot of sadness in this book.  On the plus side, there’s also…well, at least some hope.  Plus, the writing is gorgeous.

Several of the reviews I read said that the last 50 pages or so weren’t necessary.  I completely disagree.  Obviously, I am a huge fan of longer books, but if the book ended where those reviewers wanted it to, the tone would have been far different.  (Granted, the final 50 pages are basically vignettes of where the survivors ended up, but it was still nice to see that everyone who survived had happy, healthy lives.)

Highly recommended.


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