Finishing All The Light We Cannot See has been another one of those cases where hindsight has turned up in all its smug glory and made me question why I didn’t read this sooner.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance.
//What I Liked//
The story alternated between the end of the story and the beginning > I first read a novel like this called I’ll Give You The Sun, and after I got over my initial confusion, I loved it.
So I was happy to find it again, and loved how it was used to tell the story.
It’s not clear cut whose side you should be on > The first point I mentioned above about the jump through various points in the story’s timeline meant we get a unique look at the characters’ development.
We see Werner initially caught up in the romance of his work for the German army, and then ever so slowly, the cracks start to appear and he begins to question what his role really is and what sort of person that makes him.
This is the first time I’ve read a novel like this, and by the end of it, I was just as invested in what was going to happen to Werner as I was to Marie-Laure and her uncle Etienne, who took part in the French resistance.
The relationship between Marie-Laure & her father > I’ve been reading a lot of YA recently, so it was refreshing to read about a teenager who had a healthy relationship with a parent, and openly and willingly admitted to loving them and accepted their care.
Werner, and his sister Jutta > It was interesting to watch as Jutta’s ideas and opinions on the war and what the German army was doing slowly became Werner’s, but I also liked the simplicity of their family dynamic in the beginning, when they’re both still kids and get to act like it.
The brief glimpses we get into the characters’ lives after the war is over > it really brought everything into perspective at the end of the fighting, because life has to go back to how it was before and we get to see this through the eyes of some of the main characters.
We get to learn how they’ve changed, how they’re adjusting to their old lives, and how they’re dealing with everything that happened to them, and it was such a fitting ending that everybody got their own resolution.
//I could have done without…//
I’m going to leave this part of my review blank for the simple reason that I can’t think of anything, and to pick something would be just to have something to write about.
All The Light We Cannot See was heartwarming and beautiful and completely deserving of all the awards it’s won. If you haven’t read it and you’re looking for a novel set during the second world war, this is the one for you.
Amazon/ Book Depository/ Waterstones