Shining bright

‘All the Light We Cannot See’ features shifts in time and perspective that ‘lives up to expectations’, says Books Editor Abby Horton

Abby Horton, Books Editor

Books Editor Abby Horton will be regularly featuring on Wolfs Print, giving the student body book recommendations and book reviews (Art By Ananya Basarkar)

All the Light We Cannot See

Early October I finished All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This was a book that I’ve been meaning to read for years since I had heard so many people praise it.

This book definitely lived up to my expectations. The characters were so well written, and the plot kept me interested all the way through.

The Characters

I completely fell in love with the characters of this book. Marie-Laure is such a sweetheart, but at the same time, she is so strong. As the book progresses we see her grow up and start realizing the terrible things that are happening in the world around her. Marie-Laure is so compassionate about the people surrounding her, and her willingness and eagerness to help everyone really drew me to her. I love reading about strong female characters, and Marie-Laure is one that will stay with me. She is so strong and capable, and I love how Doerr wrote about her blindness. Yes, she definitely struggles at the beginning with losing her sight, but I loved that Doerr didn’t make her blindness limit her. Marie-Laure adapted and found new ways to navigate life, instead of becoming dependant on others.

Reading about Werner made me very emotional most of the time. He grows up as an orphan in Germany, and when he grows older his skills are quickly taken advantage of. Watching Werner attend the Hitler’s Youth Academy was hard, especially when I saw Werner being manipulated into thinking like a Nazi. What especially got to me was reading about Werner’s mental turmoil as he contemplates whether or not he agrees with how he’s being taught to think. Werner grows to be such a beautiful character, who fights against authority for what he believes to be right.

The Plot

The plot of the book was so interesting. I can admit I was a bit confused at the beginning, especially because of the time skips, but once I got to know the characters, the story really intrigued me. Marie-Laure and her father are hiding an extremely valuable jewel with them, and the anticipation rises as the German detective hunting for the jewel gets closer and closer to finding Marie-Laure. I loved that as Marie-Laure got older, she and the people living around her found small and subtle ways to fight against the Germans. It was really inspiring reading about her bravery and commitment. Werner’s story starts in Germany, far away from Marie-Laure, but one of my favorite things about the book was watching little coincidences bring the two of them closer until they are in the very same town. For me, this was the best part of the book; knowing how close they are, and hoping they somehow stumble across each other.

One thing that Doerr does that amplifies the reading experience of the book is the time skips and the frequent changer in perspective. As I mentioned, this was a little confusing at first, but I soon grew to really enjoy switching between when Marie-Laure and Werner were younger, to the present day. It was so fun watching how events in the past led up to where I knew they were in the present.

The Writing

The writing of this book was so beautiful. It’s one of those books that I call ‘quotable’ because it seems like in every chapter there is a description or a line that I could frame and put up in a house. The way Doerr describes Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives was so appealing, and I frequently found myself reading sentences multiple times just to hear them again in my head.

Final Thoughts

I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially people who enjoy historical fiction, and a longer, medium-paced book. I would also recommend this book to people who like to cry during books, and people who like to get really attached and invested in characters.

I really loved reading this book, and I regret not having picked it up sooner. I gave this book 4 stars.