Wednesday, April 06, 2016

First Wednesday Book Review Club

                                 
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, Anthony Doerr


ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE tells the story of World War II through the narratives of two children. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris; Werner, along with his sister, is growing up in an orphanage in a mining town in Germany.  

When Marie-Laure goes blind at six, her father builds a miniature of their neighborhood and gradually she learns how to navigate the streets, first with him and eventually alone. By age 12, the Nazis occupy Paris and her father, who works in the Museum of Natural History, takes her to Saint Malo to live with her eccentric uncle. They carry with them something precious to the French.

Werner, an extremely bright boy, evades his future in the mines by making himself useful to a scientist through his ability to build and repair radios. But eventually he finds himself in the Hitler Youth and he becomes part of dangerous operations.He is the less sympathetic of the two but perhaps the more interesting, standing in for the Germans who didn't balk when they should have.

Eventually these two characters come together in Saint Malo.
 

ALL THE LIGHT is written in short chapters that vibrate with Doerr's great gift for description. These are two memorable characters and their stories will not fail to draw you in. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, it became a best seller and is the darling of book groups across the country. It's the sort of book you feel virtuous for reading. But it was a book I admired more than liked. 

For more reviews, see Barrie Summy.

14 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I have to agree about the "admire more than I liked" comment, Patti. It did not really pull me in.

Sarah Laurence said...

I absolutely loved this book but was a bit disappointed by the ending. I didn't always like the choices the characters made but that made them human. I do understand your comment about admire more than like. You did a fine job of summing up a complex narrative in a few sentences.

George said...

Diane's Book Club raad ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE last year and it was their favorite book of the year.

Cloudbuster said...

I've read and heard so many wonderful things about this book. I *need* to read it. A former student and friend of mine just gave me a signed copy of his short story collection The Shell Collector, which I'm very much looking forward to reading, too. He is an amazing talent.

Linda McLaughlin said...

I've heard a lot of raves about the book, but I haven't tackled it yet. I'm still in fluff reading mode. You did a good job of condensing and reviewing it.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I have looked at this book several times but have not yet decided I want to read it. Generally speaking, I would rather like a book than admire it. :)

Barrie said...

And here I thought I was the last person on the planet who hadn't read this book! Thank you for the great summary. I do think, at some point, I'll tackle ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. Sometimes I'm just overwhelmed with what's in my TBR stack. Thanks for reviewing!

Margot Kinberg said...

I keep hearing such good things about this one, Patti. When it first came out, I decided to wait until the 'first hype' passed to decide if I would read it. Still haven't gotten to it yet, but it's good to know you admired it.

Stacy said...

I'm now curious to read it and see if I both like and admire it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My book group both liked and admired it.

troutbirder said...

I read and reviewed this one about a year ago. I both like and admired it except for the ending (romantic that I am)....:)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, a rather sad ending but I guess that's fitting given the war.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Spoiler alert: sad ending! But then war stories often do end badly!

Ellen Booraem said...

I started this and really, REALLY wanted to keep going but had too many research books out on interlibrary loan! So back it went to the library and I haven't caught up with it again. I guess I'll have to try harder--I did think the characters were wonderful. Thanks for the reminder!