Publication date: May 6, 2014
Category: Literature/Fiction (Adult)
Source: I received this e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I continue to be amazed at an author's ability to maintain a beautiful, captivating story that spans 500+ pages. All the Light We Cannot See is indeed beautiful and captivating.
Marie-Laure, blind from age six, lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works. Six years later the Nazis occupy Paris and they travel to Saint-Malo to live with Marie-Laure's great-uncle, who has a story of his own. Not to mention the secret Marie-Laure's father totes along.
Meanwhile in Germany, Werner and his sister are orphans growing up under the care of an old woman and a number of other children. Werner soon proves his intelligence with his ability to fix just about anything mechanical. With such intelligence, he is taken into a boarding school for Hitler's military, where he excels, despite his misgivings about Hitler's ideology. Schooling and then war lead Werner through an internal journey of the heart and lands him in Saint-Malo, where he meets Marie-Laure.
Two people, paths crossing, lives changed. I love it. What stands out about this book is the beautiful writing. Also, Doerr's characters are well drawn. I found myself practically crossing my fingers as Marie-Laure and Werner moved through their separate lives, hoping they would make it out okay and waiting for that moment when their paths cross.
Also, the story is realistic. WWII did not spare anyone. All were affected in some way. Doerr does not shy away from the misfortune that befalls his characters due to the realities of war. And in the end, although life has moved on, it's not all laughter and good times. Characters must learn to live with haunting pasts that echo into the present and future.
Very well done Mr. Doerr.