All The Light We Cannot See follows the complex narratives of two children living in Europe in the years leading up to WWII. Werner Pfennig is a sensitive, perceptive German orphan with a knack for building and repairing radios. Marie-Laure Leblanc is a young Parisian who is losing her vision at the same time she is falling in love with learning. The parallel stories of Werner and Marie-Laure are told in brief chapters within alternating storylines that jump back and forth in time. Their stories converge in Saint-Malo, as France is overtaken by the Allies. In some ways, this is a classic coming-of-age tale. While parts of the story feel familiar, Doerr carefully sidesteps sentimentality and melodrama by focusing on the intricate architecture of radio broadcasting. In the end, this poignant novel illuminates the connections that give life meaning in the context of countless moral ambiguities. Moving and well-written, All The Light We Cannot See leaves the reader with much to contemplate.
"From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, a stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure. Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work"--