Title: All the Light we Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
Publication: May 6, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Format: Audio book
Narrator: Julie Teal
Goodreads Rating: 4.31/5 stars
My Rating: 3/5 stars
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 neighbourhood so she can memorise it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is 12, 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
I saw this book everywhere in the online book community, so when I joined Audible I thought that I would give it a go.
I will start off by saying that it took me ages to get through it, as it was roughly 17 hours of audio, with 179 chapters. Now I don’t know if the written format was that big, but wow.
So we follow a number of different characters as the story unfolds, but the two main ones are Marie-Laure, a French girl who is blind by the age of 6 and lives with her father in Paris; and Werner, a German orphan boy.
Marie-Laure’s father works at the Museum of Natural History, and when the German begin to enter Paris, her father is required to take a jewel with him that has been rumoured to be cursed and hidden in the museum for 200 years, or it could be a fake look-alike, but he is to protect it. Together they flee Paris and go to stay with Marie’s recluse great uncle to wait out the war.
Meanwhile, Werner is accepted into a school for Hitler youth where after some time his ability to track radio signals is used by the army to locate illegal radio frequencies. He is sent out with a number of other men to locate these radios and confiscate them from those who are using them.
This book follows the two young people through their lives in the middle of a war until they eventually come together.
I enjoyed this book, even though it was long. I did think though it took quite some time to get to the point, and there were a number of things that could have maybe been left out. The book also jumped back and forward in time for the two characters, which made it a little confusing, for example, one minute Marie-Laure is in her uncle’s home with him and the next she is hiding in the attic and their town has been bombed. It slowly goes back and forward until the two timelines meet. I struggled to keep up once this began, as I didn’t really know what was happening or why.
Other than the confusion, it was enjoyable and gave good insight into how different people were affected by the tortures of war.
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About the Author:
Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector , About Grace , Memory Wall ,Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho (Goodreads)