Tuesday, July 28, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See - A Review

All the Light We Cannot See is the story of two childhoods that were stolen by the Nazis during WWII.  Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who lives in Paris with her father.  Werner is German boy living in a children's home (for orphans) with his sister.  Their lives run parallel until 1944, when their lives converge in the walled, coastal city of Saint Malo, France a few months after the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day).  Unbeknowst to them, they shared a connection long before they met.

I can honestly say that All the Light We Cannot See is one of the most beautifully written books that I've ever read.  Doerr's beautifully crafted prose illustrated the people, the places, and the events in such wonderful detail that the images played out in my mind like a motion picture.  Several of my favorite lines were:

"A cook book lies face down in her path like a shot gunned bird."
"A blizzard of dandruff..."
"Upholsters himself in his uniform..."
"Four disconnected strands of gray smoke melt into a white sky."
"The moon sets and the eastern sky lightens, the hem of night pulling away, taking stars with it one by one until only two are left."
"Memories cartwheel out of her head and tumble across the floor."

The only fault I can find is the book's organization.  The story not only alternates between Marie-Laure's life in France and Werner's life in Germany, but also alternates between the present (1944) and with flashbacks that begin around 1934.  In addition, the activities of Nazi treasure hunter Sergeant Major Rienhold von Rumpel are also interjected throughout the story. Given my unfamiliarity with German and French names, it was sometimes hard, especially in the beginning, to keep everyone straight.  I listened to the All the Light We Cannot See in audiobook format, so I was at a disadvantage since I was unable to flip back for clarification.

Despite the organizational flaw, I still consider this book as a very good read.  It was a little slow to start, but after several chapters the momentum and pacing picked up.  I gave All the Light We Cannot See a rating of 4 on Goodreads, however, I would give it a more precise rating of 4.5 if Goodreads allowed fractional ratings.

Have you read All the Light We Cannot See?  If so, what do you think about the book?

Please feel free to comment below and thanks for stopping by!

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