Friday, June 20, 2014

Anthony Doerr Turns On All The Light

All The Light We Cannot See
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is two extraordinary stories that eventually converge in World War II. The first is about a blind French girl. The second is that of a young German boy.

Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives with her father in Paris. He is employed by the Museum of Natural History as a respected locksmith until the German army advances on Paris and they eventually flee to Saint-Malo.

Werner Pfennig is an orphan who lives with his sister in a German mining town. Werner, who is especially gifted with building and fixing electronics, is eventually recruited to a strict and often brutal academy for select Germans to become Hitler youth.

All The Light We Cannot See ignites the human spirit.

Marie-Laure is enchanting as a blind girl who slowly learns how to navigate around Paris by studying a miniature of her neighborhood and practicing how to find her way home. Her success at it quickly becomes her greatest sacrifice as she and her father must flee from the advancing German army in order to protect one of several dozen treasures that had been held there.

After discovering their escape route to the United Kingdom has been cut off, the two turn toward Saint-Malo in the hope of finding shelter with another relative. It isn't long before her father starts to build a model of their new home until the Germans arrest him for suspiciously measuring buildings in the area.

In what seems like an entire world away, Werner has grown up never being exposed to an enlightened city like Paris. He is being raised in a poor German mining town where he is expected to become a miner like his long dead father.

All that changes, however, when a German officer notices Werner's gift for engineering and recommends him for a military academy, assuming he can pass the majority of the racial purity tests. Once he does, Werner must simultaneously demonstrate his gift for engineering while appeasing the more militant physical expectations of the brutal and unforgiving military academy.

The two protagonists, Marie-Laure and Werner, are destined to cross paths in the German occupied town as she assists the French underground and he becomes part of a special unit to detect insurgents. Despite these surface differences, however, both embody the essence of the title — a brilliant and heroic purity of the human spirit that is not readily visible to the outside world.

There is no way to expect what will be from the start as Doerr introduces them at the pivotal point in their respective histories. They have not met, but are both attempting to survive another round of Allied bombings, with Marie-Laure hiding in her uncle's deserted house and Werner trapped in the ruins of a hotel some five streets away. And it is from this moment that Doerr resets time to tell how they have both found their way there.

A few graphs about author Anthony Doerr. 

Anthony Doerr
As Anthony Doerr seems to hit his stride in this remarkable book about two children who grow up in a literal and figurative world of darkness, All The Light We Cannot See becomes something much bigger than its story. They are charged with finding hope out of the horror or perhaps pinpricks of light within the vastness of dark.

Doerr also seems to be hitting his stride in his career as a writer. The author of five books (two novels) and winner of four O. Henry Prizes (among many others), the Boise, Idaho, resident continues to write increasingly captivating books that touch the heart. He was born in Cleveland and majored in history at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, before earning an MFA from Bowling Green State University.

All The Light We Cannot See Shines 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Doerr does an exquisite job in developing a world of contrasts around his two primary characters. Despite their varied conditions, it becomes increasingly clear that it is not our circumstances that make us who we are but the choices we make in those circumstances that will.

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr can be found on Amazon. You can also download the novel for iBooks or the audiobook on iTunes. The audiobook is narrated by Zach Appleman, who succeeds in making the narration as enveloping as the book itself. You can also find All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr at Barnes & Noble.
blog comments powered by Disqus