"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

07 June 2015

2015 Book Review #17: All The Light We Cannot See

Most of you, if you are avid readers, probably know that this novel has been on the NY Times Bestseller list for months.

It is the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner for Literature.

It's my first novel by this author. He is brilliant.

The book is full of metaphors. 

 It's set during World War 2 in Germany and France (Paris and Brittany). Since I really enjoy reading historical fiction, I delved right in.

And I was hooked.


In a small mining village in Germany, a young boy named Werner, lives with his little sister Jutta in an orphanage.  Werner finds a radio and becomes an expert at re-building and designing new things that involve wires, cables, electronics, etc.  He has a special talent for it, which then leads to a place in the academy for Hitler Youth.  Once he is an older teen, he becomes a specialist on assignment to track the resistance to Nazism.

But, Werner soon realizes that there is a human cost to his intelligence.  He travels to the heart of the war, to Saint-Melo, on the northwestern edge of France.  It is here that his story mingles with a young French girl.

Marie-Laure is a little girl living with her father in Paris.  Her father works at the Museum of Natural History and is the master of thousands of its locks.  But, when Marie-Laure turns 6, she becomes blind so Father builds her a perfect miniature of the neighborhood so she can memorize it by her sense of touch.  She soon learns her way around the neighborhood.

When she turns 12, the Nazis invade Paris so Father and she flee the city to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure's great-uncle Etienne lives.  He is a recluse who lives in a very tall house right on the sea.

Marie-Laure and her father carry with them a very precious stone......a very valuable and dangerous jewel.  There is a legend connected to the jewel.  It is known as "the Sea of Flames".  And the person who carries it will live forever.


I can't even put into words how this novel affected me.  It is magnificent.  It truly is one of the very best I've read in a long time.  It is right up there with The Thirteenth Tale, The History of Love, The Handmaid's Tale, and The Book Thief (4 books that I've read in the last 6 years that are 4 of my very faves)

I love how the story points out that people really do try to do good and to be kind and compassionate to one another, even against all the odds.

I love how the author connected Werner to Marie-Laure.  I love how Volkheimer played his part towards the end of the book.....and Frederick.  Dear, pure, simple Frederick.  You will read about these characters and learn to connect with them.  You will weep.  And laugh.  And moan.  And rejoice.  And marvel.

The ending is poignant.  I don't want to go into details because I don't want to spoil anything for you.

I love how I learned about Saint-Malo.  I had never known about this part of France.  It was fascinating to read more on various websites about this walled city in Brittany.

This book took the author ten years to write.  I can see why.  A lot of research must have gone into it!  In fact, after I finished the book this weekend, I read an excellent interview with the author. It was fascinating to read his thoughts about the process of writing this novel.

To me, this novel shows love in the face of deep despair; it shows the beauty of nature and all that evolves; it shows how tender and frail the human heart can be...and how strong.

This novel is very moving.  It will stir up many emotions for you, I'm sure.

I highly recommend this book.  It truly is a gem.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Susanne said...

Well, my reading challenge has a pulitzer prize winning book on it so maybe I'll do this one. I do have it on hold at the library but I'm like 30th in line so maybe I'll just break down and get it at costco.

Deb said...

Thanks for this review! I had been wondering about this book, so no I'm putting it on my "to read" list since I enjoy many of the same books you do. Thanks for this very nice review! Have a great week!