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Lit Crit: All The Light We Cannot See (no spoilers)


Get Ready, because I'm about to make a very bold statement.

I have a new absolute favorite book.This novel has truly blown me away. I giggled, I cried, I read in awe. Every line written by this author was so melodically enchanting that even war torn France still had a sparkle to it.

To rewind, the book bounces from 1940 to 1944 every so chapters and mainly follows the lives of a blind French girl, Marie Laure and a German boy, Werner. It was fascinating to read about how two people on opposite sides of the war could have so much in common. Marie is stripped away from Paris, the museum her father works in, and everything known as "home" to her and she is placed on the sea of France where she must start anew. Likewise, Werner is a poor orphan destined to work in the mines the remainder of his life, until his brains and the impending war get him a job with the Nazis working with radio and electronic repair. Both children (and I say children although they are about 16) have to leave behind what they knew and begin again because of World War Two.

I don't like to include spoilers in my reviews because I merely want them to act as an introduction you may decide to read or reject, but I will touch on one of the more powerful moments in the novel.


While at training school to become a Nazi solider, Werner is dragged out of his bunk, along with the other students, in the middle of the freezing winter to observe a prisoner. The book does not specify if the man is an escaped Jewish person, and is only described by Werner as looking more Russian or Polish. Each student lines up and proceeds to take a bucket of water and dump it on the prisoner until he is soon frozen to death. It is such a powerful scene because Werner knows it is incredibly wrong and that he shouldn't do it, but he does it anyway.



When his turn arrives, Werner throws the water like all the others and the splash hits the prisoner in the chest and a perfunctory cheer rises. He joins the cadets waiting to be released.  Wet boots, wet cuffs; his hands have become so numb, they do not seem his own.

As a writer myself, I was amazed at the way the author, Anthony Doerr, was able to weave all the different story lines together and make them cohesive. Often times I add in new characters and am never able to get their plots to coexist with one another. One of my favorite lines from the book, which is often repeated is, “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever."


It of course relates perfectly to not only Marie on a literal level with her blindness, but to how Werner is so quick to turn a blind eye to the monstrosities he commits with his work with the Nazis. The novel is brilliant and I proudly give it a 5 out of 5 books for my review.

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