All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, follows the tales of a young French girl and a young German boy as time progresses through World War II. Though their lives are quite different, they become intertwined as a result of the war, as many lives undoubtedly did during that time.The book was quite interesting, providing a variety of points of view about the war that I never learned in history class. The characters were meaningful and the story, though we ultimately know the ending, was captivating enough to make you want to read. Overall, I would call this book a READ.
Here, There Be Spoilers
All The Light We Cannot See introduces a blind French girl and her father living in Paris, along with a young, orphaned German boy and his sister living in an orphanage in Germany. Each chapter switches back and forth between points of view, with certain other points of view thrown in occasionally. It’s done in an easy-to-follow, organized manner, and gives the reader a firm expectation of the two intertwining stories.
Following the French girl is quite interesting, because her blindness means she interprets the world in different ways. She loves books, and though she and her father aren’t rich, they still live fairly well. Having recently learned a lot more about the propaganda that Nazi Germany threw at France prior to taking it over, it was interesting to see a sort of first hand tale of the rumors and fear that the French public was subject to during that time.
The German boy’s story arc is also intriguing, as we see the Nazi party gain hold and the fervent patriotism and cautious fear that grips the nation set in. The boy gets the opportunity to save himself from the coal mines and study science at a school, but he quickly learns that the school is training for the army. This is a look at Nazi Germany that I’d never had before, dealing with Hitler Youth and the fate of those growing up in the midst of the conflict.
This book is not one about fighting in the war. It’s mostly about the lives and struggles of the people in the center of the conflict, and how politics ruled the lives of those that were just trying to exist. It explores the concepts of fitting in versus doing what’s right, morality, and the trap of blame.
This is not a book of all happy endings, and shows the lasting impression that a large-scale war can lead. It does show lives being repaired and the world changing, but it also shows how broken things were and stayed long after the war.
If you’re interested at all in this period in history, I think this would be a great book to read. It has a good story with interesting characters, and shows the war from both sides, from a young person’s point of view. The two main characters are kids who aren’t motivated by politics, but rather the will to live in the world in which they find themselves. I would call this book a READ.