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Review: All the Light We Cannot See

Book Review

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a Boise-based author, focuses on two main characters in the 1930s and 1940s. Marie Laure lives in Paris with her father who works at a museum. At a young age she goes blind and her father builds a model of their neighborhood and teaches her how to move about in a world without sight. Werner, along with his sister Jutta, is raised as an orphan in Germany. Werner has one great love: radios.

As Werner grows he is sucked into the life of Hitler’s Germany, first the Hitler Youth, then the Wehrmacht, using his specialized radio skills to help hunt down partisan communicators from Poland to Russia and then finally to France. Marie Laure and her father escape Paris ahead of the Germans, hiding a valuable jewel from Nazi thieves, and seek refuge with their World War I shell-shocked uncle in St. Malo, located in far western Brittany. There the stories of the two young people come together, with the Nazi hunting the missing museum jewel, almost in the very last pages as St. Malo is pulverized by American bombers in August of 1944.

Wonderful brave characters, rich descriptive language, and a fast-moving story line will enthrall readers. You know Marie Laure and Werner will meet eventually – or will they? Will they survive the war? What will happen to the valuable jewel hunted by the Nazi officer? A National Book Award finalist, this book has been one of the favorites of library patron and one of the “best” books of 2014.

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