Thursday, August 3, 2017

To Be Read Pile: All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr


Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, 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, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Best Line:  So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?

This book was gorgeous, start to finish. I normally can't stand books that hang purely on descriptive prose but all the chapters are short, dreamy vignettes that I blasted through like a cookie jar.

I love books where it feels like I'm getting a different perspective and learning new things and this delivered in scads. First there was Marie-Laurie a young blind girl in occupied France who flees from her home in Paris with her father and between simply trying to survive and understand what happened to her home, becomes embroiled in the resistance. It was a fresh perspective on a story that has been told (and told and told)

Then There is Werner. Dear, gorgeous Werner who loves radios and gets a harsh introduction into the Hitler Youth. I think, what I liked about Werner is that he wasn't the lone resister in a crowd of monsters. He has an interest and the Hitler Youth nurtures it. And, when asked to do something horrible, he bows to the peer pressure around him. Not because he's an inherently bad person, but because that was how people behaved. He feels bad and guilty and he's confused because he's told he's doing the right thing. It's nuanced and his actions are explored and dissected and ruminated on throughout the book. Plus, I got to learn some interesting things about early radios and bird watching.

If you're looking for a book that is achingly beautiful and so understated and subtle that you won't start crying until a full half hour after you put it down, this is the book for you.

Get it here

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