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All the Light We Cannot See    by Anthony Doerr order for
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Order:  USA  Can
Scribner, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

One of the pleasures of this book is that we learn many unexpected things. For instance, the present a locksmith presents his blind daughter with each birthday: it is a puzzle, and her job is to figure out how to open it. It is not easy because her father is very accomplished, but then so is she.

In a similar way, our author has fashioned this novel. We get short pieces of information that take place now and in the past, and we must unlock the story. It is even more interesting because we are following not only the blind girl, Marie-Laure, who is French, but also a German boy, Werner, and this is in the time of World War II. The young people's stories have already intersected, unknowingly to them, and will intersect again, leaving each profoundly affected by the other.

Marie-Laure has come with her father from Paris to Saint-Malo to escape the Germans. She will be staying with her great-uncle Etienne, a shell-shocked wreck from World War I, and his housekeeper, Madame Manec. Her father's other reason for leaving Paris is work-related. He has been entrusted with a treasure from the museum, at which he has made and kept the keys for many years. On the other hand, it may be a replica of the treasure - four people have been enlisted to save it and are all heading in different directions.

Werner has been brought to Saint-Malo to discover who is broadcasting information about German weapons and fortifications. An orphan, he was known in his village already as a young boy for his ability to take apart and put together radios. When the Nazis come to power, his ability gets him into a military academy, where his body is shaped but his mind continues to question.

Many vivid characters populate this story, and we are treated to wonderful descriptions of mollusks and birds, armies and history, cities and countryside, and that's not all. This is a work to savor, ponder, re-read and to recommend.

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