All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Typically if everyone is gushing over a book I don’t like it. (The Goldfinch, which I don’t mind telling anyone I hated, immediately comes to mind.) I am also pretty much done with World War II books. I find the time period fascinating and thrilling (and depending on the book depressing) but it seems some authors set their books in that time period just to sell the book. This is the exception to both rules. I truly enjoyed this book, it couldn’t have happened anywhere or anywhen else, and I didn’t want it to end.
Marie-Laure goes blind when she is six. Her father is in charge of all the locks and keys at the museum of natural history in Paris. His daughter accompanies him to work and she learns to navigate her dark world and appreciate mollusks and other things of nature through lessons from scientists and other museum employees. Then the German occupation forces them out of Paris and her known world. Her father is one of four museum employees trusted with a very precious stone (one is real and three are fakes) and their journey away from Paris takes them to her Great Uncle’s house in the walled city of Saint Malo.
As Marie-Laure is fleeing northward in France, Werner is leaving the house of orphans in a mining town in Germany for an elite school for boys of the Reich. At his new school he hears all the propaganda coming from the teachers and the radio, but for some reason things don’t seem to be right.
I’m hesitant to say more. Of course these stories cross. I can tell you that it is all because of the radio. In a way this book is a love song to radio and all the good, and bad, things that it has brought about. After reading this book I have found myself listening to the radio more than usual and imagining a time where that was your source of late breaking news and also of comfort.
I am sure many readers of this blog have already read this gem and are smiling in remembrance of a book well read. For those of you who, like me, chose not to read it: think again. Choose this one. Enjoy.