All the Light We Cannot See

I’ve just finished the awarded All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes when I started it as I was expecting a story on Second World War presenting all the suffering, life struggles, horrors and dehumanizing of people whose lives have been crashed by this implacable war machine.

The story of how was it to live in those times is told from a double perspective: on one side , Maria-Laure, a French blind girl who will become a representative of the French Resistance and on the other, Werner, a young boy, talented when it comes to electrical circuits who will manage radio communications during the war, as part of the German army. Each of these characters tells a story of their own, describing a detailed picture of the war and its consequences seen through their own eyes, or in case of Marie-Laure, through all the other senses. The eyes of two children who were forced to grow up faster, lose their innocence and participate in the war. After Doerr’s flipping back and forth in time in the years of the war, their paths eventually cross: their life stories collide in a no-return point when life and the values that make us humans gain over blind obedience, resignation and surrender.

Interesting story line, but poor execution. Doerr’s fragmented style, sometimes with overcharged description and over-adjectivated nouns made me feel in a constant expectation of something to happen. It was obvious the two main characters would collide, but when they did, I felt a bit disappointed as I was expecting something more. Neither Werner nor Marie-Laure have great psychological depth, they are more like two flags, each belonging to a different side, raising above their times. Apart from my disappointment regarding the style and the way the two main characters are built, I could not manage to get absorbed by the novel at any moment. I found many of the leitmotives of the story, all its metaphors (the story of the boiling frog, the Jules Verne novel, the diamond received by Marie-Laure from her father, the ight metaphor) did not convince me; on the contrary, they had the opposite effect, making me feel the novel as overcharged with symbols meant to show me that this is not just a story about war, that there’s more to it. I felt the author was trying too much to lead the way through his novel, giving to many indications meant to signal the lyrical content and psychological implication of the novel. His over trying is too present anywhere in the book and fails to fulfill the author’s initial intentions simply because not everything has to have deeper meaning; things are absurd and inexplicable, scattered pieces of life in a particular stage and time.


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