All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This story very insidiously burrows its way under your skin and you cannot shake it off until you reach the end.  There is an eeriness about each character and a tension that is so taught that it grips your heart as you read through.  At the same time, you cannot help but feel a tenderness for each of the characters and it paints each in a human light, that is neither good nor bad, but very, very human.

It is the story of two main characters who are unconnected and wind their way toward each other in a most circuitous way.  One is Marie-Laure, the young, blind daughter of the locksmith for the natural history museum of Paris, just before the German occupation of WWII.  The second is a young German orphan named Werner, who is mesmerized by radios and sees his curiosity and natural ability in engineering as his ticket out of his small, mining village.  The story bounces back and forth between the two, and keeps the reader absolutely on the edge of her seat.  It is almost impossible to put down, actually.

While this is yet another book about WWII, it is a very different perspective on it.  There is very little about the treatment of Jews; rather, the focus is mainly on the effect of the German occupation of France.  In addition, there is also the struggle between the ideas of bad and good, and the idea that  “bad” can be defined as not doing good.  Werner, in particular, struggles with this in a vivid way.

This is a heart-wrenching story but a beautifully written one that I would heartily recommend!


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