I’m back with another book club! First, let me say that I love, love, LOVE this book – 10/10! It is honestly my favourite book in years. All the Light We Cannot See follows the stories of two young people as they grow up through World War Two. Yes, I know that stories about World War Two are so common these days, but bear with me. This is not your traditional World War Two novel. It isn’t written for shocks, or to make you cry, it is just two peoples stories, written in a very thoughtful and interesting way.
Marie-Laure is a young girl living in Paris with her father. She is a bright young girl with a fascination with the natural world. Unfortunately, she is going blind, and it isn’t long before she lives in darkness. Luckily for her, she has an amazing father who builds a scale model of their neighbourhood which she can run her hands over to learn how to get around.
Werner is a orphaned along with his sister Jutta at a young age. He is exceptionally bright and loves to play with electronics, especially radios. This talent doesn’t go unnoticed; it isn’t long before he is fixing peoples electronics in the town. Eventually he catches the eye of the Hitler Youth Party and goes into training.
The War hits Paris, and Marie-Laure and her father flee the city and end up at the coastal town of Saint-Malo with Marie-Laure’s great uncle Etienne. Marie-Laure is confined to the house as her father begins building a miniature of Saint-Malo. The war intensifies and it isn’t long until the Nazi’s occupy Saint-Malo. The residents of the town begin taking sides and Marie-Laure and her family become embroiled in the resistance.
Meanwhile, Werner is excelling at the training camps. The recruits are taunted and forced to do some pretty horrific things. Werner continues to learn about radio transmission and before long, Werner is sent to Russia with a fellow classmate. Soon, he is sent to Saint-Malo to find the culprit behind a radio broadcast.
Underpinning the entire story is the search for a precious diamond that Marie-Laure’s father took from the museum in Paris for safekeeping. A Nazi antiquities hunter is sent to find it, leading him to Saint-Malo. The stories begin to intertwine – with some connections expected and some unexpected – and the tension builds. It’s a really beautifully written story.
The secondary characters really make the book. I loved Werner’s sister Jutta, I thought that she was a really strong character. I also loved Marie-Laure’s uncle Etienne. His back story was pretty haunting and beautiful – but I won’t spoil it for you here!
The story flip-flops between time and places – a characteristic which usually bugs the hell out of me! But here, it works so well and I think that it really adds to the story. The book is a little slow to start off with, but please bear with it! It is completely worth it in the end. All in all, this book is a well written story which focuses on a side of the war that is rarely explored. It is thought-provoking and challenges ideas of people being purely good or bad. I really, really enjoyed it – as did everyone in the book club! A must read!
My rating: ★★★★★
Group rating: ★★★★☆
Have you read All the Light We Cannot See? Have you read any other good books recently?