Jul 11, 2014
All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
I've been hearing for months about this book, with other booksellers saying it's one of the best books they've read in a long time. This is extremely high praise from booksellers, so I had very high expectations for this novel. "All The Light We Cannot See" takes place before and during World War II. We follow Marie-Laure, a Parisian girl who goes blind at age six, and whose loving father constructs a model of their neighborhood so she can confidently get around on her own. Her father is also the locksmith at the natural history museum, and most of the action revolves around the possibility that, on the eve of Germany's invasion of Paris, he is entrusted with a priceless gem from the museum's collection. At the same time, we follow Werner, an orphan in Germany who has a particular genius for radios. He's drafted into the Hitler Youth, then quickly sent to the front to help triangulate insurgent radio transmissions. The chapters are very short, and we bounce back and forth between these two characters, with a couple of additional points of view thrown in every now and then. My favorite parts were Doerr's description of Marie-Laure's blindness, the way she experiences the world: in sets of numbers, in sounds and feelings from her deft fingers. It's a beautiful book, and astonishingly well-researched. I wouldn't say that it's one of the best books I've read in a while, but I certainly think it's very good, and would readily recommend it to most readers.