All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr has been on my TBR list for a long time. It’s been on my shelf for about 3 years and every time I’d think about it I’d be like umm 500 plus pages??? And I try not to read reviews of hyped up books because then I tend to stay away for awhile. But a friend who always shares WWII reqs with me, did tell me that it could have been about 100 pages or so shorter and still good and I can concur. That being said, I did a buddy read with my friend Erin and we cranked this sucker out. It helped having the Instagram accountability because I may have just let it sit for a bit when parts got ‘nature-y.’ I don’t believe it is any secret I am not a fan of reading beautiful descriptions of nature. I just can’t. Skim skim skim is my nature motto.
This book skips around in time period so if you do let it sit a bit it’s kind of hard to figure out the timing. I did start to ignore some of the times except for when it was on the time period of the August bombing of Saint-Malo. This isn’t too spoilerish since it’s mentioned within the first 30ish pages.
It goes between two narrators, Werner a young German orphan and Marie-Laure a young French girl. Both of them are very smart, interested in science, and have traumatic incidents in their upbringing. Werner lives in an orphanage with his sister Jutta, and even though he is brilliant looks to be heading into the mines at age 15. The Nazi’s are on the rise at this time in Germany and using the connection of a local Nazi who he helped with a broken radio, Werner earns a spot in a school. This school teaches him about race superiority, how to fight, and makes him question his morals. One of the quotes from this part of the book stood out to me from a classmate he meets there, “Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”
Marie-Laure grows up with only her father and becomes blind at a very young age. She accompanies her father to work at a museum daily and eventually learns how to read braille and solve puzzles her father puts towards her. The Germans eventually bomb Paris and they must flee and end up at her great-uncles house in Saint Malo. He survived WWI but lost his brother. He does not go outside.
The book constantly goes between the two at different points in the war. I’d recommend it if you like beautifully written stories. It is long. However, this story sticks with you and I was left thinking of the characters many days after finishing the book.
Have you read All the Light We Cannot See? What are some large books that you’ve put off reading? What are some long books you’d recommend?