“It takes a lifetime to find one’s own light.” Joyce Wieland
Clearly Joyce Wieland never met Marie-Laure. Anthony Doerr’s protagonist, who becomes blind at age six, is effuse with her own light. Her radiance is particularly striking against the backdrop of World War II. She is a warm French girl, profuse with love for a doting father who is determined to enable her to adapt to darkness and still bask in discovery. When the two seek safety in the seaside town of Saint-Malo, remarkably Marie-Laure volunteers to participate in the French resistance.
Werner Pfennig, a young German orphan amid Hitler’s youth, has a gift for rebuilding radios. His unit is tasked with locating and destroying anti-German radio broadcasts, which eventually leads him to Marie-Laure. He is drawn to the blind girl. Was it fate? Did their lives converge because both of them interact with an invisible world? Both characters live with darkness—the absence of sight for Marie-Laure, the absence of peace for the boy who doesn’t feel racially superior to his peers. A German soldier and a French rebel enjoy a fragile connection through an unlikely communication. I was wholly enchanted by their story—it reminded me of the truth that, “Some people pass through our lives for a season to teach us lessons that could never be learned if they stayed.”
Bravo Doerr, Bravo. For crafting a novel that I will read again and again. I wish I could find bigger, more beautiful words to underscore the exquisiteness of All the Light We Cannot See. I simply cannot do our Throwback Thursday selection any sort of justice. (Rae could give it an old college try I’m sure.) So how, readers, does an author create a novel that let slip the dogs of war, which lives without a spark of light, and build for us a world full of light?