Author: Anthony Doerr
Genre: Historical Fiction, War
Release Date: May 6th 2014
Page Count: 530
I’m sure we can all agree that there are quite a large number of novels that use World War II as their primary setting. Regardless of the vast number of stories, fiction and non-fiction, revolving around this time period, there are always new novels that are released that find a new perspective in which to tell the story of World War II.
All The Light We Cannot See is a work of fiction that explores two very different perspectives of two children who are growing up from the time that the second world war begins and as it ends. Werner is a young German boy who lives in an orphanage with his younger sister Jutta. Marie-Laure is young blind girl living in France with her single father. As the story moves forward, you soon realize that their stories are connected in the slightest of ways until their paths finally cross.
Each chapter within All The Light We Cannot See contains sub-chapters that alternate between the perspectives of these two children which is something that I love within novels. It helps to change up the story. Rather than getting bored after reading the same thing for so long, the sub-chapters leave you with a sense of anticipation to find out what will happen next, only you have to wait every other sub-chapter to find out. Whenever a novel uses this approach, I tend to favour one perspective over the other, but in this case I loved reading both equally! Both sides of the story provide very different aspects of the war which worked as a great contrast between one another.
The moments told from Werner’s perspective reminded me of a film called Land of Mine, a Danish/German film, that I was privileged enough to be able to view at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of last year. These moments show how easily young soldiers, especially children/teens, were brainwashed into believing they were doing something good by working under Hitler’s reign. Land of Mine and All The Light We Cannot See were very similar in how they explored the ides of young boys being forced into war. One scene in particular toward the end of the book and the film were eerily similar and quite heartbreaking. It was quite hard for me to comprehend that these events really did take place and people actually went through the horrible reality that was World War II. I can’t even begin to imagine what living through that war must have been like.
Marie-Laure’s story took on a whole other perspective as someone who was forced into hiding due to the war. Her story was particularly interesting and unique as she became blind at a young age, which in turn made her life more difficult, especially during the war. Her life could have been ten times harder than it was, but her loving father found ways to make her life easier and to convince her that she was just as capable of doing things that any seeing person could.
I absolutely adored how these two characters and their stories were connected. It wasn’t blatantly obvious or in your face, but rather very subtle. I loved how the story slowly unravelled until it was finally revealed how these characters and their lives were intertwined.
Another aspect of this story that I really enjoyed was the flash forward at the end of the novel that took a look into the lives of the characters after the war had ended. Some of it was really hard and disturbing to read while other moments were beautiful and provided a good sense of closure to the story.
The amount of effort Anthony Doerr put into researching the time period and the locations within All The Light We Cannot See is definitely evident. It was so detailed and so well written and so expertly executed. I could definitely see this being adapted into a film in the future. I know how most people feel about book-to-movie adaptations, but I really think that this could be amazing if it were done well.
I obviously enjoyed this novel and its story immensely and I am definitely going to recommend that everyone read it as soon as possible if you haven’t already. It had been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for quite some time and I regret waiting so long before finally reading it.