“He sweeps her hair back from her ears; he swings her above his head. he says she is his émerveillement. He says he will never leave her, not in a million years.” ― Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See
This was a book I picked up because it simply popped up in any of my book recommendation newsletters, online, in bookstores and friends recommended it. I needed to know what all the hype is about – with books I do make an exception. My first thought was that the book is really thick – to let you know from the start, “The light we cannot see” comes in 530 pages. Usually, if I start a book like that I know out of experience that there will be a plethora of details, many people interact and get involved so it is not a easy breezy read. However, I started the book and was done with it in no-time. The chapters are very short and it makes you interested enough to keep reading. Besides that, it is a unique story and very beautifully written.
The book starts out by introducing the two main characters; a blind French girl – Marie Laure and Werner who is a radio expert in the German army who cannot leave the city when WW II starts and the Allies begin shelling Saint-Malo; a French city. Marie Laure and Werner are both very young in the beginning of the story and they author jumps back and forth between those two’s perspectives on the war and their life. Here you really have to focus and pay attention, otherwise you loose track of the story. It is not a war novel so to speak but a plot brings both characters together which is also described by Doerr in very rich, precise and elegant language.
I give ever book the chance of fifty pages to get me hooked. If this does not happen I put it down usually. With “The light we cannot see” it took me exactly forty pages to figure everything out and then I could not stop reading. So honestly, it did not hit me right away. You wonder about the title of the book? This is what Anthony Doerr explained in an interview:
“The title is a reference first and foremost to all the light we literally cannot see: that is, the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that are beyond the ability of human eyes to detect (radio waves, of course, being the most relevant). It’s also a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II — that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see. Ultimately, the title is intended as a suggestion that we spend too much time focused on only a small slice of the spectrum of possibility.”
Overall, I would recommend this book. It has a lot of details as I expected and I think that some characters were not really necessary but simply filled pages. WW II was just insane and you get some good ideas on how these people must have felt during the war. This book will make you feel emotional at points and you will probably see for yourself that there is a lot of light under the surface of history that simply has not been revealed.
Thank you for reading. Enjoy this book if you read it and share your thoughts.