All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There is quite a lot of hype behind this book and I had to wait a long time to get it from the library, so I went into this novel with some high expectations. For the most part, they were met.
The book is centered on two main story lines: Marie-Laure, a young, blind girl living in Paris with her father and Werner Pfennig, a young boy seeking to escape his coal mining town by joining the Hitler Youth. There are also several other parallel stories that are woven together and branch off from these two main stories, some which are atypical of a World War II novel. There is the story of Marie-Laure's reclusive uncle who takes her in and his faithful servant who leads a resistance movement in seaside Saint-Malo. Or the story of Frank Volkheimer, a ruthless Nazi soldier known as "The Giant" who loves classical music and has a soft spot for Werner. Frederick, Werner's best friend at school who doesn't quite fit the mold and suffers the consequences. Reinhold von Rumpel, a Nazi officer on a mission to collect valuable for the Reich and hunt down a fabled gem known not only for its value but mystical powers. All of these stories weave together to drive the convergence of Marie-Laure and Werner's stories towards the end of the novel.
At first, it can be a little difficult to track these seemingly divergent story lines, but once you get used to the structure it becomes easier to see how the stories are all pieces of one story. The narrative is sad and there are many broken pieces, but war stories rarely have happy endings. I thought the book was well written and deserving of the praise it has been receiving. It was worth the read.
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