Saturday, August 27, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
    • Published May 6, 2014
    • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015 and has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 119 weeks through August 2016
    • Other works by author include one novel (About Grace), 2 short story collections and a memoir.

    • The story takes place before and during World War II. It tells about the lives of a blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a German boy named Werner. Their paths cross during the war when both end up in the town of Saint-Malo, a walled French city on the English Channel. 
      • A real place, Saint-Malo was almost totally destroyed by American and British bombing in August and September 1944, a few months after D-Day when the forces were trying to get the rest of the Germans out of France.
    • As the novel begins both characters are in different locations in the walled town just before the start of the bombings. Then the story goes back in time so we can learn how they both arrived there.
    • There's also a fabulous --- and possibly cursed --- jewel and the single-minded Nazi on its trail.

    • I really loved this book. It was a different take on World War II novels, so many of which tell stories related to the Holocaust and the Jewish experience. Those are important stories to tell and I have read several novels and non-fiction books on the subject: The Diary of Anne Frank, The Book Thief, The Reader, Maus, Sophie's Choice, and so many more.
    • But it was interesting to read a tale told from a different perspective, that of French people and their lives under German occupation. (Getting sent off to the concentration camps was also a threat over people who weren't Jewish.) It also covers the Hitler Youth angle when Werner gains admittance to a brutal school.
    • The supporting characters were fascinating and you root for both Marie-Laure AND Werner.
    • There is a satisfying ending in which the main story lines are wrapped up along with a jump forward in time, many years after the war.
    • Recommended for fiction readers, especially those who like stories about World War II.