Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review-All the Light we Cannot See





World War II provides a rich ground for historical fiction. The recently named Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner is a case in point. Anthony Doerr, in All the Light We Cannot See, looks at the war from both the German and French sides as ordinary people get caught up in the conflict.
On the German side we have the orphans Werner and Jutta. Werner loves working with radios and becomes the fix-it guy for his whole neighborhood by the time he is 12. He and his sister Jutta listen to radio broadcasts from all over Europe, but their favorite is from France. They listen to a Frenchman explaining science to children as often as they can. They live in a mining town and the only future that Werner can see for himself is going into the mines, like his father before him (who was killed in a mining accident.) When Werner sees a way out by going to a Nazi training school he jumps at the chance to learn engineering. Jutta, although younger, has been paying more attention to the Nazi propaganda and doesn't want Werner to go.
On the French side is Marie-Laure who started to go blind when she was six. Her father, a locksmith at the museum, creates a 3-d model of their neighborhood out of wood so she can learn her way around. He also devises puzzle boxes for her as birthday gifts. She goes to the museum with him and learns about shells and mollusks. She learns about a great jewel that has a curse attached. As the Nazis approach Paris the museum has copies made of the jewel and sends it and the copies out into France to protect it. Marie-Laure's father is one of the carriers. They end up in Saint Malo, where Marie-Laure's grandfather and great uncle grew up.
The book is told in short, alternating chapters, starting around 1934 but sometimes jumping forward to 1944-1945. Each person's story is intersting and well told and how they come together is very well done.
I liked it because of the detail that went into each character's story and how the story built in tension. It was sad, but how could it not be considering the setting. Even though it was about war and the effects of war on ordinary people, it was somehow gentle, too. A very good book.

All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See
By Doerr, Anthony
2014-05 - Scribner Book Company
9781476746586 Check Our Catalog
Awards:
ALA Notable Books (2015), Alex Awards (2015), Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence (2015), Colorado Blue Spruce Award (2016), Indies Choice Book Awards (2015), National Book Awards (2014), Pulitzer Prize (2015)

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. …More


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