This feels like one of those books people will remember. The title or author may not be widely known, but they should be. Anthony Doerr is an American novelist; All The Light We Cannot See is his second full length novel having written short stories in the past, earning him the Sunday Times Short Story Prize. The book is epic to say the least, spanning over many years and many countries, dealing with the need to survive during World War Two.
The novel follows two characters; a blind young girl called Marie-Laure and an orphan by the name of Werner. The narrative switcheds between the two making this a dynamic read. Its approach to the subject of war is impassive. It is simply a thing in the background that acts as a stressor on our characters, bringing out all shades of grey. Doerr is more interested in exploring how a blind girl and talented engineer survive the war.
Despite the quick paced nature of the short chapters, the writer has taken his time to describe everything. Doerr paints such beautiful pictures of the countryside to which Marie-Laure’s escaped, it’s heart-breaking and bitterly cruel that she can’t see that for herself. But he also captured the brutality of the war, Werner’s time in the orphanage and in a military academy as a young boy to becoming trapped as a young soldier. The story is complex but the essence is simple: survive.