All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
(Scribner, 2014, 531 pages)
When the seize begins, Marie Laure is alone in her Great Uncle’s house in Saint-Malo. Marie Laure and her father fled there many years ago when the German’s started to take Paris. Marie Laure has been blind since she was a child but she knows the streets of Paris and Saint-Malo because of the model cities her father has constructed for her so she can be independent. When Marie Laure starts to hear the bombs going off and smells the smoke outside, she carefully places one building from the Saint-Malo model in her pocket.
Werner, on the other hand, quickly escapes to the basement of the hotel he has been stationed at. Werner is intelligent and talented, especially when it comes to radios and mathematics, since he was a small orphan trying to distract his younger sister. To escape his current situation, Werner uses his skills to be accepted to a military academy where he is eventually sent out to aid Hitler’s army. When the attack on Saint-Malo begins, Werner believes he will be safe in the basement until the hotel collapses and he is trapped underneath all the rubble.
I love how Doerr had these two separate storylines slowly circle each other and left the reader unsure of if or when they were going to meet. The book jumps back and forth between the present attack on Saint-Malo and the past leading up to the characters’ situations and adding to their dire need. I loved that Doerr spent equal amounts of time developing these two stories and then slowly started adding in a third story from a different perspective. It never felt like there was too much going on and was really well written. This was another National Book Award Nominee and it wasn’t hard to see why it was a finalist.