This WWII historical novel came highly recommended by my dear friend, Amy of Mom Advice. She featured it on her blog at http://www.momadvice.com. I purchased it for my kindle, but honestly, I forgot all about it! When I saw it and started reading it, what a delight! This was a wonderful story, beautifully written. It is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2014.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE starts with young Marie Laure, a blind girl living with her father in Paris. Her father is the master of locks at the Museum of Natural History, and she arrives at work with him each day. Marie Laure has an active imagination and her mind is keen. She loves to learn about the different items in the museum, especially the snails and sea life. When the Nazi’s take over Paris, Marie Laure and her father flee Paris to the small island village of Saint Malo, where they have a relative. He is elderly and suffers from what we would call PTSD, from the First World War, leaving him frightened and unable to leave the house or socialize. Marie Laure builds a tentative relationship with him and also with his loving housekeeper. Together they use her uncle’s secret wireless to work against the Nazis. But Marie Laure does not realize that her father is also hiding a secret – one that could put their lives in jeopardy.
At the same time, young Werner and his sister Jutta are growing up as orphans in Germany. Werner is fascinated by radios and wireless and he earns a reputation as a young expert. He and Jutta love to listen to stories over the radio that come from France at night. Soon he is drafted, so to speak, by the Reich to serve in the military. As the Nazis move to take over the island of Saint Malo, Werner is tasked with finding any radios or wireless devices that could be helping the British and French forces. Werner and Marie Laure’s world are set on a collision course.
I loved this book! What a beautifully written story with such a memorable and unique young heroine. I love WWII stories, but this one really touched me. I would recommend it for YA readers, too, but there is a scene of violence near the end that some may find disturbing (I did and I’m far from young!). I have to add, too, that I loved the use of Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as part of this story/part allegory.
Here’s Doerr talking about how he came to write it, via You Tube: