All the light we cannot see Anthony Doerr
I was very exited to start reading this book, since I have been seing it on everybody’s hand. It is not without any reasons that this book is a New York Times Bestseller, Winner of the Pulitzer Price and #1 Globe and Mail Bestseller. All the Light we Cannot see is also finalist for the National Book Award. This incredible story will definitely move you deeply. But be aware, this is not a love story, nor a feel good one.
Anthony Doerr tells the story of two kids, living in different parts of Europe at times of War. It is 1934, Marie-Laure Leblanc lives with her father in Paris and becomes blind at a young age. In the meantime, three hundred miles northeast of Paris, in Germany, Werner Pfennig lives with his younger sister in an orphanage. Werner is fascinated by radios, which he is very talented in assembling and fixing. Then comes what we would know later as World War 2. Werner is taken to a boys school, The National Political Institute of Education in Schulpforta. In other words, an academy for Hitler Youth. In Paris, Marie-Laure and her father, that works at the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle, have to leave when the Nazis take control of the city. They make their way to St-Malo, where Uncle Etienne lives. Two kids, two very different lifes in different parts of the continent. War will unite them somehow.
Now, everytime I think about All the light we cannot see, I get very enthusiastic and moved inside. But I have to admit that it took me a little while before appreciating the very detailed writting of Anthony Doerr. The rythm is slow and the descriptions are long. It might be something you enjoy, but if you don’t, hold on. I ensure you will start to embrace every single word. Constantly going back and forth between Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr also brings you in different times, from future to past. This unusual writting mode is something I quite enjoyed. The chapters are small, (between 2-3 pages) and they narrate specific episodes in Marie-Laure and Werne’s life.
Even though it was sometimes heavy to read, due to the level of language and the descriptions, I was surprised to find myself reading this book every second I had, and without letting go. Even with its simplicity, you can’t help becoming very invested in the story. Very well documented, the facts are there: War, the Nazis, the historic city of St-Malo, Hitler Youth… But the facts are brought to us through the eyes of these children that neither understand or know all that is happening, unlike us now. The purity of it touched me and gave me a completely new perspective of those tragic times. Marie-Laure and Werner were, after all, young people that had their life transformed. All the Light we Cannot See, is a touching, human and beautiful story about innocence, purity, youth and strength. Maybe those are the lights the title refers to. The lights we cannot see in the darkness.