Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure’s agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.
In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.
Yet another WWII story, but then so different. This is up close and personal and mostly about Marie Laure and her restricted life during World War II. There is not much violence in this book, but still this is one of the most heart breaking stories about the World War II. A blind girl who tries to survive in a world and time when your survival actually requires more than 5 senses..the girl who was forced to survive alone in a big house because all those people who are supposed to take care of her are no longer with her..
This book is a very beautiful one and deserves all the attention that it has received till date and I will not be surprised if this was made into a movie very soon. Werner’s character may be the one to watch out here. How he evolves from the orphan to the German officer he becomes. Also how he adapts psychologically to all the violence around him, but how he cannot face his sister Jutta because he is sure that she can see through all those defenses that he has built up during his Germany military career and then later how he tries to redeem himself after his encounter with Marie.
He says,”You are very brave.” She lowers the bucket. “What is your name?” He tells her. She says,”When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
I loved the above quote which is a part of the brief conversation between Werner and Marie. Their encounter even though very brief leaves a lasting impression on both of them, one of the most beautiful part of the entire book. Frederick who goes to military school with Werner, Marie’s great uncle and his house keeper, Jutta etc are the other strong characters in this story.
‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a book to be relished for Marie’s innocence and courage in the difficult times. It is the story of overcoming your limitations in whichever way it is possible.
First Release: May 2014
Note: I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher through netgalley in return for my honest review.