In the stunning novel, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, we meet Werner and Marie-Laure.
It’s 1934 and Werner is a German orphan. He and his younger sister Jutta live in an orphanage in the mining town of Zollverein. His father died in the mines and when he’s old enough, he will most likely work in the mines too. But right now he is seven years old, always exploring the world around him and asking the directress, Frau Elena, endless streams of questions.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her dad, who is the principal locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History. At six years old, Marie-Laure loses her eyesight. She is completely blind. It’s devastating but her father’s love and patience help her to navigate the world and her surroundings. Her father builds a detailed miniature version of their neighborhood that allows her to learn her way around it. She is not just getting by, she is happy. She learns to read braille and dreams about the worlds in her books.
Werner finds a broken radio and he not only manages to repair it but he improves it. The different components of the radio seem to be talking to him. He intuitively understands what their role is and how they fit together. Jutta and Werner love to listen to the radio together.
When the war comes, Werner and Marie-Laure are impacted by it in very different ways. Marie-Laure and her dad have to flee and leave Paris, the only place she has ever known. Werner’s talents with radios land him in a fancy Nazi school, far away from Jutta, where he is trained to become a soldier.
All this time you feel that there might be some sort of connection between the two of them. But what is it?!
All The Light We Cannot See is beautifully written. You very quickly fall in love with all the main characters, despite their quarrels and conflicting interests. This sometimes made me wary to read on. At the same time, it was impossible to put this book down. A lovely dilemma. Needless to say, I chose to read on most of the time.
I highly recommend this book. It’s much more about the people than it is about the war. The characters truly come to life and the story is a stroke of brilliance.