All the Light We Cannot See: Plot & Review

“When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”

There are books you know you are going to love. So, you keep them stashed away in your pile for the tough times. This is one such book.

Plot (No spoilers):

The story is set in world war II. Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives in Paris with her father who is a locksmith in a museum. She turns blind at the age of 6. So, her father builds her a small replica of Paris. Every day, Marie runs her fingers over the model and learns the city until one day she can find her way back home without any help. She dreams of living like this forever. Waking up in her room with her pine cones, having coffee with her father, walking to the museum, discovering all the specimen and coming back home. But things change. Nazis infiltrate France. His father is given the task to protect a special jewel called ‘Sea of Flames’ and leave Paris. For safekeeping, the museum makes three copies of the diamond and sends them in different directions. Marie’s father takes her to Saint- Malo, a walled Breton city, to her great grand uncle. Marie’s uncle fought in world war I and never came back the same. There’s a housekeeper who takes care of him. Marie’s father builds her a replica of Saint-Malo and leaves for Paris. He is caught on his way and never returns. Marie’s life changes and she has no choice but to live it.

On the other side, the author introduces us to an orphan sibling, Werner, and Jutta. They lost their father to coal mines of Zollverein. Both are smart kids and help the caretaker of the orphanage. One day Werner founds an old radio, and he spends a week fixing it. He falls in love with wires and science. Both Jutta and Werner listen to science for kids show by Frenchman and dream of meeting him someday. Werner gets acknowledged as a great repairman in the town, and when the time comes to join the miners, he gets sent to a rich school. The training is hard, and Werner doesn’t like the way it works, but he keeps shut. When one of his friends is almost beaten to death, he does nothing. It haunts him for all his life. Because of his talent, Werner gets sent to the front before he turns of the age. But things don’t get better for him. He discovers illegal transmitters, and his troop kills them. This isn’t what he wanted to do with his knowledge. He feels homesick and wishes to see Jutta. Until one day his troop reaches Saint-Malo.

My Review:

I have read a lot of books on war history. And it gives me goosebumps just to read what all those people went through. There was no food, no electricity, no water and people were killed for less than a penny. This is one of the few books where you get to see the perspective of a German soldier. How he didn’t want to kill people or invade cities. But that’s all he could do if he wanted to survive.
I loved how the author played with fate in this book. All the characters are lovable. You can’t even hate the enemies because at the end everyone is just trying to survive the madness of one person. The chapters are short and go back and forth between past and the present. You won’t feel bored even for a minute.