January 27, 2017

TYRR #1: All the Light We Cannot See

I'm really excited to be sharing my thoughts on my first official read for my pet project with my friend Lindsey, The Year of Recommended Reads. We made the decision to tackle a book that we've been trying to read together for nine months now, namely All the Light We Cannot See. We finally did it, and we both really loved it! I'll be explaining how this book wound up on my TBR, sharing my review, a few favorites, and my Goodreads status updates as I read. Don't forget to check out Lindsey's post too!

Why was this book on my TBR? I originally acquired a copy of All the Light We Cannot See because Hannah spoke highly of it, and it was her review that convinced me to read it. I liked the sound of a historical fiction novel that talked about two characters on the younger side of the spectrum, and how they inadvertently experience things that lead to their eventual meeting. Plus, it started getting a lot of praise online a little after the time I acquired it and that intrigued me even more!

What is the book about? All the Light We Cannot See is the story of two young individuals, set against the backdrop of World War II. It follows Marie-Laure, the blind French daughter of a locksmith for the Paris Museum, who escapes to the town of Saint-Malo before the occupation of Paris; it also follows Werner, a young German boy who is determined to reach for a life better than the one he has a child of the orphanage in his small mining town. Their paths eventually cross in Saint-Malo, even as the war continues wreaks havoc around them. It’s a story of survival and love, of hope and darkness, of knowledge and strength – and it is incredible.

What did I think? I absolutely loved All the Light We Cannot See, and I cannot believe I waited two years to read it. It is the tale of a girl and a boy, who are simply trying to survive the terrors and devastation of the war that has changed their lives and the world around them.

It’s a simple enough story, but the way Doerr writes this story is incredibly beautiful. He utilizes short, choppy chapters, as well as jumps between the past and present in order to allow this story to unfold. While it surprised and unnerved me initially, I was actually a fan of this narrative choice by the end. It made things feel urgent, exciting, and also kept me hooked on reading just a little more every single time I tried to stop. In addition, he does a great job when it comes to descriptions, including just enough to immerse the reader properly in the towns, the horrors of war and the lives of these two main characters.

Speaking of characters, I enjoyed Marie-Laure from the start. She goes blind at a young age, but manages to learn how to live with that disability with help from her beloved father. Her strength, curiosity and cleverness were so appealing, and I loved her immediately. On the other hand, Werner is a character who had to grow on me. But it is witnessing his entire process of growth from childhood to young man was, in hindsight, really amazing and really contributed to my love for his character. Their narratives, read in tandem, allowed All the Light We Cannot See to really feel like a well-rounded story, and I’m glad Doerr split it between them instead of focusing on just one.

All in all, I am truly happy I finally got around to reading All the Light We Cannot See this year. It was a really incredible and immersive reading experience from start to finish! I would highly recommend that fans of historical fiction, particularly novels centered around World War II, check this one out.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Publisher: Scribner | Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Owned | Buy It: Book Depository | Amazon | IndieBound

Favorite character? If you couldn’t tell from my review, I absolutely loved Marie-Laure. Her devotion to her father, her insatiable curiosity and ability to retain things she’s learned, her appetite for stories, her bravery and her strength even in the face of her disability, her vulnerability – these were all a part of the reason that I loved her. (I have to give a special nod to Madame Manec, however, who was an absolutely wonderful, inspiring, brave lady!)

Favorite scene? I have a few favorite scenes, but I figured it might be best to go with one that happens early on in the novel so it won’t be too spoilery! Right after Marie-Laure goes blind, her father finds a way to teach her how to navigate around their arrondisement in Paris. My favorite scene involves the first time Marie-Laure is able to navigate her way home all by herself!

Favorite quote? "My God, there are none so distant that fate cannot bring them together."


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