all the light we cannot see

title: All the Light We Cannot See

author: Anthony Doerr

genre: Fiction, WWII, radios, Hitler Youth

suggested by: Pam R.

dates read: October 7th – October 10th

review: 5 out of 5 stars

summary: Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives with her locksmith father in Paris and Werner Pfennig is a German orphan who lives with his younger sister at Children’s House in Zollverein.  Completely blind by the age of 6, Marie-Laure’s father builds her a miniature city to help her memorize their neighborhood.  When the Nazis invade Paris, she and her father flee to Saint-Malo, where her father’s uncle lives.  Meanwhile Werner discovers his love of radios and an acute ability to fix them, gaining him recognition and admission to the National Political Institute of Education at Schulpforta.  Both children grow up as the war rages on, their stories coming closer and closer to collision.

personal thoughts: Another “wow” book.  Of course any book that is set in the time of WWII will be sad as all get out.  This was no exception.  But this was also beautifully written, a captivating story about two children trying to make the best out of what they were given.  I loved how Doerr went back and forth between past and present, slowly stitching them together, showing how the pieces fit one by one.  His was a poetic style that made me want to highlight the whole book.  Beautiful, tragic, heartbreaking, and real, I highly recommend this.

favorite quotes:
“Smokestacks fume and locomotives trundle back and forth on elevated conduits and leafless trees stand atop slag heaps like skeleton hands shoved up from the underworld.” p. 24

“Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth.” p. 63

“His voice is low and soft, a piece of silk you might keep in a drawer and pull out on rare occasions, just to feel it between your fingers.” p. 134

“That’s how it feels right now, he things, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body.” p. 189

“Frederick says nothing more, and both boys lie motionless a long time, watching the blue spokes of moonlight rotate through the room.” p. 251

“Racial purity, political purity – Bastian speaks to a horror of any sort of corruption, and yet, Werner wonders in the dead of night, isn’t life a kind of corruption?  A child is born, and the world sets in upon it.” p. 276

“Silence is the fruit of the occupation; it hangs in branches, seeps from gutters.” p. 348

“Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.” p. 376


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