Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

Book club is awesome - the girls are hilarious - and it's got me reading again. The other day I walked into the public library to pick up The Wire season 4 that I had on hold, and a book caught my eye. My boyfriend and I decided, in lieu of ridiculous Christmas spending, we would start following the Icelandic tradition of buying and giving books for Christmas. We picked four book lists (Governor General fiction and nonfiction, New Your Times and the US National Book Awards) and each bought each other one to put under the tree. While scanning the lists for him, I put together a list for myself. While picking up my DVDs, I spotted one I had my eye on, but big problem...it was on the Hits to Go shelf - and that means they can only be borrowed for seven days. When's the last time I read a book in seven days? Especially when two days were out because of Christmas festivities? I shouldn't've taken it out at all - what if there was a copy under the tree for me?* But I thought it was a recommendation from book club, and it sounded right up my alley, so I walked out with The Wire season 4, a book, and a challenge to read a 544 page book in five days.

And wow, am I ever glad that book came home with me!

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
2014
544 pages

A young, blind girl and her father live in Paris during the Second World War. Her father works for the museum, and she is fascinated by nature. He has carved little wooden houses from their neighbourhood to create a model for her to memorize, so she can take walks to the park or shop. Alas, it is war, and they escape to the walled city Saint-Malo in Brittany, to stay with the great-uncle. Again, her father carves her the town. While she waits for it to be finished, she listens to, and broadcasts signals over radios with her great-uncle.

A young, orphaned boy lives with his sister in an orphanage in Germany. He is a radio whizz, which eventually gets him into an academy for the chosen ones of the Hitler Youth. Eventually he ends up on the front lines, tracking Resistance radio signals, all the way to Saint-Malo.

And war. Always the heartbreaking truths of war.

Short chapters switch from Marie-Laure's, Werner's and other minor characters point of view, and from the main assault of Saint-Malo in 1944, to the events that lead up to assault, and then to the future fates of all our main characters.

And it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The writing style was simple, accessible, but also eloquent and...beautiful. The short chapters that switched from perspective through time made it a quick read, and I read it over four days - I just couldn't put it down. Just...wonderful.

This, this is the kind of book that reminds me why I read. A rarity these days on my reading list, but a masterpiece, one that has already helped restore my passion for reading.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It was fantastic. Fitting that the best book I read in 2016 was the last book. And here's to more masterpieces in 2017!

*I got this one. What for a review soon!

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