Monday, December 14, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

"So how, children, does the the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build us for a world full of light."

There is not too much that I can say about this book that hasn't been said before.  An instant best seller, still #8 on the New York Times Best Seller List almost a year and a half after it was published, and the winner more awards that I can count - including the Pulitzer Prize and the Goodreads Choice Awards to name a few.  

This novel is essentially about childhood and war and growing up in a world torn by war.  Marie-Laure  lives with her father in Paris. When she was six years old, she became blind and her father teaches her to learn to navigate the streets by building her an exact replica of their neighborhood.  She is twelve years old when the Nazis occupy France and her and her father flee to the country to live with Marie-Laure's great-uncle for the remainder of the war.  Werner is an orphan growing up in a small mining town in Germany.  He grows up with his young sister listening to the radio and dreaming of bigger and greater things than spending the remainder of his life as a minor.  When the Nazis begin to recruit for the Hitler Youth, Werner sees this as his only opportunity out.  He quickly gains a reputation as being the only one who can fix new instruments critical in the advancement of the Nazis.  As he receives one special assignment after another, Werner slowly realizes that cost that his work has on human life.  Work that will also one day lead him to Marie-Laure.

'All the Light We Cannot See' is a beautiful story of two children who grow up during the war.  Two children that grow up during unspeakable times having to make unspeakable decisions way beyond their years. The novel alternates between Marie-Laure in very short chapters, making the almost 600-page novel go by much faster than expected.  The imagery was wonderful and was, essentially, what makes this book such a masterpiece.  It was also what made it hard for me to rate this book as amazing instead of simply wonderful.  The writing was almost too beautiful - I kept thinking that I was missing something.  It was almost like reading literate poetry.  Breathtakingly beautiful, but a little hard to follow throughout an entire novel.  Especially since the chapters were so short and the development of each character's story was woven to intricately with the other.

I did really enjoy this book, but I don't think I was able to appreciate it in it's entirety.  I tend to read way to fast and so I wasn't able to grasp as much of the detail as I would have liked.  I think this may be one of the few books that I will have to re-read someday!

This book was #6 on my top ten list of 2015.

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