Friday, June 5, 2015
Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
All The Light We Cannot See follows the stories of two different children. Werner is a German boy who is orphaned in a coal mining town with is younger sister. Werner always has an extreme interest in how things work, which he develops into an ability to understand and repair radios better than any technician in the area. As a teenager, Werner is accepted into Nazi Germany's most elite school for boys where he helps develop a way to locate those who are making illegal radio transmissions in a given area. Marie-Laure is a young French girl born with quickly degenerating eyesight. Her father is the locksmith for the Gallerie Nationale in Paris, making keys and lock mechanisms to keep the country's treasures safe. Marie-Laure loses her sight completely at 6 or 8 years old, but her father is determined to help her and he begins carving a small wooden replica of their entire neighborhood for her to study so she always knows how to find her way home. Before the war, her father carves elaborate puzzle boxes every year for her birthday with a surprise inside when she gets it open. When the war begins, France starts shipping off their most valuable museum pieces to keep them out of Nazi power. The most valuable item they have is a rare blue diamond called The Sea of Flames, and even the French people don't know for sure that the country actually has the stone or if it is only a legend. The stone is said to be cursed - whoever owns it will live forever, but those they love most will die unexpectedly. The museum has replicas made of the diamond and sends 4 trusted employees off to their families outside the city, each one with a stone and none of them knowing who has the real thing. I don't want to give more away since it's a very interesting story idea, but eventually Marie-Laure and Werner's paths do cross in a way that affects them both forever.
I really enjoyed this book. The descriptions were really beautiful, particularly when things were described from Marie-Laure's point of view. She notices incredible details due to her blindness. Werner too has an incredibly mechanical mind, and so he notices things others around him seem to ignore. The two are definitely misfits who don't really fit in with their peers or their time, but I think you end up liking them more because of this fact. I loved that the story followed the rare diamond, also I loved the big part played by my favorite piece of music, Claire de Lune by Debussy. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in this period of history. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.