All the Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doerr

Cross posting this from my book tumblr so I can get rid of that.

Let’s be honest, I chose this book for two reasons:

1) The cover is beautiful. My edition has a slight shimmer to it too, which just adds to the appeal
2) It’s about World War Two, which I find one of the most fascinating eras of history (although really I find all eras of history fascinating, but WWII has a lot of fantastic literature….). On top of that it is half about a French girl, and half about a German boy. Most of the WWII fiction I’ve read has been from either a British or Canadian standpoint, so both of those are fairly new to me.
2.5) It’s partially set in St. Malo, a French city which I’ve been too, and which I will be visiting this summer.

When I heard that it was about “a German boy-genius  and a blind French girl whose lives intertwine at the climax of the second world war”, or whatever the blurb on the back of the book said, I was definitely expecting a love story in which the boy betrays his country to save the beautiful but strange girl he met in France. What I got was so much better.

I found the descriptions in this book very visceral. I mean, there was rarely any violence, blood, gore, or sex in it, and yet everything prompted a strong reaction from me. Especially the scenes in which I could see the Nazi indoctrination. (A few days before reading this book I actually had a series of really terrifying dreams in which that type of indoctrination happened, and so when I was reading it, which made it even more vivid and horrifying for me.) I really enjoyed the way that it didn’t portray the Nazis as a group of people who all believed what they were told, because let’s be honest, not all of them did. A survival of the fittest atmosphere was created, and that is shown extremely well in this novel; how if you wanted to live (and live well) it was necessary to follow orders and do things you would never do. Side note: this really scares me because what if that ever happens to me? I like to believe that I would stick up for what is right and join the resistance and such, but when it comes down to it I have no clue if I would have the guts.

This novel also portrays the French resistance and the occupation of France. It shows what happened to people on the home front, in both France and Germany. (Again, interesting, because I haven’t read much fiction about the German home front. )

Overall, I would say that this book is interesting and beautifully written. It did take me a little while to get into, but it was worth it.

I would also give a trigger warning for rape. It’s barely mentioned (and is barely explicitly said), maybe just in a page or two, but it isn’t pleasant, and if that is something that you don’t want to read about, I would stay away from this book. Use your discretion.

I’m going to give this novel an eight out of ten.

If you’ve read this book, what did you think? Any book recommendations for me?

4 thoughts on “All the Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doerr

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