Monday night, after four weeks of trying to read it, I finished All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Yes. Four weeks. This from the girl who can usually finish a book in four days.
(Yes… that’s me when I took a young adult reading class and had to read all those books and many more for the summer. Best class ever. No judging the books I chose to read.)
But what did I think of it?
I loved it.
It took me awhile to love—like four weeks. They say in dating you know by the third date. It took like 12 dates for me to decide to like this book. By date #13, I was hooked. Instead of going to the gym last night, I finished it.
The majority of the story hops during the years 1940-1944. Yes there’s a little that happens before, to set the scene and a little that happens after to give closure, but the majority of the time you bounce. For a few chapters you’re in 1944, then you jump to 1940. Then you’re back in 1944, only to be taken to 1941. It’s a little confusing and for a linear person like me, I wanted to know why I should care about these characters in 1944 when I barely knew who they were.
But once I started to care about Marie-Laure and Werner, I couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to see how they got to where they were and how their stories intersected.
Marie-Laure is 16 years in 1944. She grew up in Paris with her father who was the locksmith at a museum there. She also has been blind for some time. If you think that makes her weak, you are wrong. She is courageous, smart, and resourceful. She manages more than others, especially as you reach the climax of the story. Marie-Laure is my new hero.
Werner is an orphan with a little sister. He wants to do great things. He is limited by his status as an orphan but not by his mind. He self-educates and becomes a brilliant radio engineer all on his own. Through that, he is able to go to school. Unfortunately, it is to be trained and join the ranks of the Nazi soldiers. He doesn’t subscribe to their philosophies, Werner is just a boy who wants to be the best that he can. While he sees and recognizes when things aren’t good, he doesn’t do anything. It begs to question this idea of standing alone. It’s really hard to do, especially if it means having to sacrifice for what you want most dearly. I loved Werner. I thought he was a great character.
If you’re wondering what book you should read while you’re on vacation (perhaps on a beach like I will be in 18 days or inside because it’s snowing outside), this is the one. Maybe if you’re lucky, Santa will leave it under the tree for you.