“All the Light We Cannot See”


9781476746586_p0_v3_s114x166  This World War II novel by Anthony Doerr focuses on the lives of two families:  one German and the other French.  Werner and Jutt, his sister, are orphans whose father died in a mining accident.   Werner is a resourceful boy who has develops an ability to work with radios.  He can build them out of discarded remnants and is equally adept at fixing them as well.  Marie is blind.  She lives in Paris with her father who works at the local museum.  He is the keeper of the keys, who makes and maintains all the keys for the museum.  He is a skilled model maker who constructs miniatures so that Marie can navigate her way around Paris and then Saint Malo.

The story spans 1939 to 1945 and gives us a post-script as to what happens to the main characters after the war.  Eventually through a series of circumstances Marie and Werner meet in the seaside town of Saint Malo in Brittany, where Marie is living with her great-uncle, and Werner is stationed with a small group of young men whose job it is to find illegal, hidden radio transmitters.

It took me a while to get into the book mainly because Doerr’s chapters are very, very short.  He alternates his narrative between Marie and Werner and jumps from the beginning of the war to 1944 and back again.  Just when you get into the story, he jumps back to a character or to another time period.  But as I got really into the book, I couldn’t put it down.  The lives that Marie and Werner and their families are forced to live because of the war are tragic.  They are two children, among so many others, who lived through a brutal nightmare.

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