Thursday, January 12, 2017

All The Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr - Reshelved Books

     All The Light We Cannot See is a historical fiction novel that takes place during WWII. This one has been on my To-Read Shelf for quite and while, and because two of our followers loved this book, I decided to start my 2017 reading off with it!
     This is the first novel that I have read by Doerr, and while I am unable to compare it to his other work, the literary style he uses in this novel captured my attention and stood out to me as being rather unique.  This is because Doerr uses short chapters that gives the reader a snapshot of a specific part of the story, but does so in a way that is fluid -- not scattered or choppy.  While working with these prosaic snapshots, Doerr is able to successfully tell the stories of two characters, Werner, a boy who is in training to be a member of the Nazi youth, and Marie-Laure, an intelligent blind girl who does not let her disability get in the way of her independence or sense of adventure.
    This novel is different from the other WWII novels, such as Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls because while there is suffering, there isn't much written about Jewish suffering or groups targeted by the Nazi's.  There is government occupation, fear, and the upheaval of lives, yes, but the detailed suffering of specific groups sort of fades into the mass scenery of the text.  There is also an underlying storyline centered around the myth associated a diamond stored at the museum Marie-Laure's father works at, and that is ultimately placed into Marie-Laure's possession.  In this myth, there was a diamond called the "Sea of Flames."  This diamond is the size of a pigeon egg and is blue with a red center.  In the myth, the person who possessed the diamond was said to live forever, but the family and loved ones of the possessor were said to suffer great misfortune.  This captured my attention because 1) I didn't expect it in a WWII book 2) I never heard of it before and 3) I'm not sure what happened to the diamond in the end. The diamond might symbolize how a story lives on and can grow.  It can also symbolize the idea of myth and legend, of fear intertwined with greed, and how while time may progress, people pass away, and new lives are created, these stories continue.  While the details of these stories may falter and smudge, life always carries on.

     While I enjoyed this book and read it much faster than I originally thought I would, I am only going to give it a rating of 3 out of 5 coffee beans because I felt that the ending was a bit too "neat" and happy.  At the end of the novel, almost everything was wrapped up (except for the Sea of Flames!), which I guess can show how even after these terrible historical events, life moves on and new generations, while they may hear the details of these times, will never feel the memories of those who actually lived through them.       

So, for those of you who read this novel, what did you think of the ending?  AND What do you think happened to the Sea of Flames?      

P.S. Here is an interesting article I found while researching the Sea of Flames...I can't believe I didn't realize Werner was albino. 


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