All the Light We Cannot See is a poignant story set in the time of World War II, and revolves around two young individuals during that war. Marie-Laure LeBlanc lived with her father in Paris, where her father worked as the Museum of Natural History’s lockmaster. When she is six, she goes blind, and six years later the Nazis invade Paris. Carrying what could be the museum’s most valuable jewel, Marie-Laure and her father escape to Saint-Malo, where her great-uncle lives and they try to survive the war. Werner was an orphan for all of his life, and lived with his younger sister in a small mining town in Germany. Werner becomes extremely skilled with radios and similar items after finding an abandoned radio near his orphanage, and he is recruited to an academy for Hitler Youth. He then is assigned to track the resistance, and his assignment brings him through the war and eventually to Saint-Malo. Do the two meet? You’ll have to find out yourself.
An interesting attribute about this book is the way the story is unfolded. The book begins with Marie-Laure when she is 16, in her great-uncle’s house while Saint-Malo is being bombed. In the next chapter, it switches to Werner’s story at that same point in time. It is 1944 then. After a couple of chapters, however, begins the next part of the book. This next part goes back in time to 1934 and talks about the childhood of both protagonists, and then in the third part, it goes forward again to 1944 and continues the story from part one. The entire book consists of these parts jumping back and forth between timelines, which creates cliffhangers.
While the story is being deftly told, the author focuses a great deal on the theme of point of view. Marie-Laure is blind, so the author seems to use this to compensate for that fact. Adding to this point of view theme is the fact that the author utilizes an amazing amount of intense imagery, which is easily the most notable part of this book. The imagery seems to allow the reader to take on a character’s point of view, and even experience what blindness feels like in the case of Marie-Laure. Something interesting to note about this is that in the book, not a single character’s thoughts are expressed with first-person, which helps with the reader being able to adopt the character’s point of view, and ultimately, allows the reader to create a sense of deep connection the characters in the book.
This book is simply incredible and would be an amazing book for anyone who reads it. There are, however, are quite a few fancy words sprinkled in the story from here to there, as well as a couple of scenes that may not be appropriate for those of younger age. To sum it up, this book is strongly recommended to a young adult to adult audience that can absorb the rich, descriptive metaphors and appreciate the underlying message of this moving novel.