All The Light That We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (5 out of 5)


This is a book that I received an advanced reading copy of, thanks to Ms. Wendy over at Simon & Schuster. As always, thank you, Wendy, for giving me a chance to read this before it came out and review it here. I hope as many people enjoy this as I did. The past couple of days at the store, we’ve had teens rolling in looking for historical fiction. If I thought any of them were serious about reading it and enjoying it, on leisurely terms, I would have recommended this in a second. However, most of the teens wanted quick, easy reads. This is a quick read once you get into it, but I don’t think it’s a book that teens will dedicate themselves to truly enjoying. Adults are another matter, and that’s whom I’m targeting to point out how awesome of a book it is.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her dad, the lockmaster (literally) at the Museum of Natural History. Marie-Laure loses her sight at the young age of six, and her dad builds a miniature version of their neighborhood, so that she can memorize it by touch and get to and from her home safely on a daily basis. Years go by, and then the war and the Nazis find and occupy Paris, forcing Marie-Laure and her father to flee and seek refuge with her extremely private uncle, who lives in Saint-Malo, a location that may just keep them safe for the duration of the war. Of course, this wouldn’t be a legit historical fictional retelling of the war if there wasn’t some dangerous object involved. In this case, Marie-Laure’s dad has with him an incredibly valuable and likely dangerous jewel. You read a lot of historical fiction from that time period, where those who fled tried to take flight with valued keepsakes, or valuable treasures that later may be able to be sold for money to fund travels, to feed those on the run, or to just barter with, if they are caught by enemy forces. Of course, there’s more to this angle of the story.

Shortly after Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo, you’re taken away to a small mining town in Germany, where the reader meets Werner and his sister Julia. They find a radio, which not only fascinates Werner, but to a point that it leads to him becoming an expert at fixing, building, and trying to interpret radio waves. This leads him to a position at an academy for the Hitler Youth, and he ends up being cast in a role he never quite expected- an assignation to track the resistance. Werner learns a lot about the human spirit, infallibility, and the price of war. Werner’s travels lead him through the bloody realities of the war, and he ends up in Saint-Malo, where he and Marie-Laure meet, and the entire landscape of the novel takes another turn.

To say that I can review this book is a hard thing for me to write. Quite obviously, I AM reviewing it, but I feel my best chance at selling it is going to be at the bookstore I work in. My enthusiasm for this book and Anthony Doerr’s beautiful writing knows no bounds, but I feel as if sometimes a book is just so wonderful that the true emotion in one’s voice and boundless enthusiasm in their expression, is the easiest way to sell a book to someone who may not have heard of this. Thankfully, we have one book club in the area that is doing this as their monthly read, so I hope the word gets out. Pretty sure that this book hasn’t left the NYT bestseller list since it came out. Also pretty certain that it’s an Indiebound bestseller also. It deserves all of those kudos and more. I can’t think of the last time I read a historical fiction title where I was so sucked in that I named it a favorite for that year. Probably The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. I read a lot of historical fiction, but this one, wow. Just unbelievably well written, beautifully descriptive writing. Doerr’s writing flows so well that it’s a damn shame if you don’t give this novel a chance. He deserves to win some major literary awards for this title. Definitely in my top 3 favorites of the year so far. I can only hope it’s on many other favorite lists by year’s end. It so deserves it.

~ by generationgbooks on August 27, 2014.

One Response to “All The Light That We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (5 out of 5)”

  1. I am putting this on my TBR list right now!!!

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