All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

all-the-lightThe harrowing story of two children’s lives during World War II won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015.  Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who flees the occupation of Paris with her father and joins the resistance in the coastal city of St Malo.  A huge radio at the top of her uncle’s house is used to transmit the location of German troops across the Channel to the allies.  Coordinates are smuggled into the house via loaves of bread which Marie-Laure fetches each morning.  Werner is a gifted German boy who builds and repairs radio transceivers and is drafted at age 14 into the Nazi army.  Warner travels across France with a group of soldiers who track down and kill citizens transmitting illegal radio signals.  In the last days of the War, he reaches St. Malo and meets Marie-Laure.


 What the Armchair Critics Thought

This was an emotionally draining book, but rewarding to those who stuck it out.  It was also a very timely book for us to read given the rise of fascism happening to the south of us.  The parallels with Nazi Germany were quite clear.  The short chapters kept the reader going even through tough passages.  The book was beautifully written with lyrical prose and deft descriptions.  It is unusual to see a portrayal of life in Germany during WWII and to feel sympathy for a German youth.  It was very believable when Werner shut himself down and didn’t think about what he was really doing.  It was also fascinating to think about radio waves as the primary source of propaganda and information during wartime. 




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