What We're Reading Now: All the Light We Cannot See; Anthony Doerr
Do you ever feel like inanimate objects are following you?
Maybe that wasn’t my best opener, and maybe it has you shrinking away from your computer, murmuring various concerns for my sanity, but I’m serious. Do you? Because ever since EW reviewed All the Light We Cannot See, I feel like this book is everywhere.
Peeking out from the corners of various EW staffers’ desks (at the moment, mostly buried under Jessica Alba covers) — stacked at various angles on office bookshelves — mentioned/heavily praised in a string of meetings…
Like I said, everywhere.
I finally pried one out of someone’s hands (“But you already read it!” I whined, securing their copy under my arm and scampering away) and am completely lost in the story.
To begin, All the Light We Cannot See must be the best title of 2014. It’s inviting and seductive (in the way that sometimes literary things can be literarily-seductive) and once you learn that half the narrative is told from the perspective of a young blind girl it sort of slaps you in the face with its depth.
Europe, escalating from international tension and political unrest to World War II comes to us from opposing narrators; Marie-Laure, our young, blind, exquisitely imaginative French girl or Werner, our orphaned German boy with a curious knack for wiring radios and higher levels of math than I can even name. Marie-Laure comes to join the resistance, Werner folds into the Hitler youth and each ensuing chapter builds towards the moment their paths cross.
I have never wanted two characters to meet as much as I wanted it for Marie-Laure and Werner. The lead up, in terms of plot structure as well as character development, is fantastic.
I have also never contemplated plagiarism as strongly as I have while reading Doerr’s prose; the title is merely a precursor for his rich writing and I am, truly, ripe with envy. Almost every page has me running around, looking for someone to read aloud to (making so many friends, I swear). Passing co-workers, roommates on the couch, calls to my sisters and grandmother — they all get hearty doses of, “Listen to this!” and, “How did he do that?”
Describing Marie-Laure’s Great Uncle, “Stillness: this is what he radiates more than anything else. The stillness of a tree. Of a mouse blinking in the dark.”
Werner, arriving at training camp, “Not in the clearest hour of Zollverein’s clearest day has Werner breathed air so unadulterated by dust.”
You don’t just picture a scene when those words cross your eyes, you feel it.
I’m not finished (please, let me savor it) and not only that, but I’m desperate for it not to end.
What’s everyone else reading? Tell me you’ve found something good.