Book Review – ‘All the Light we Cannot See’

All the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six and lived with her father in Paris until some years later and the outbreak of WWII when their worlds are turned upside down and they flee Paris to Saint Malo. Saint Malo, a walled city by the sea, where her great-uncle lives.

Werner, an orphan, lives with his sister in an orphanage in a grim German town where their only refuge and glimmer of hope is the voices and stories they hear on their radio late at night. 

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As the war goes on, both of these young children go on painful and heartbreaking journeys which change them forever. They both experience loss, fear and form bonds where they least expect them. A young French girl living in a Nazi-occupied French town and a young German boy doing his service in the German army; it seems obvious that they are on opposite sides. And yet, they are both so young and experienced so much loss from the same war. Neither seem in control of their own destinies. In between this all, is a distant and unlikely fairytale and an invaluable diamond which Marie-Laure’s father entrusts to her. 

‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

For so long, for most of the novel, the link between them is minimal and unclear. As the story progresses and the build up of how their stories will collide was beautifully written and perfectly timed. 

This novel was so powerful in the way it portrayed different characters and the way the war affected them all; none of them understanding why this war took place and all of their lives being wholly and irreversibly changed by it. 

This story was so beautiful and it intricately showed how nothing is ever black and white, good and bad, friends and enemies. Everything is always more complicated and all that matters is the choices we make individually. 

8/10

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