All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, 2014
Now this is a novel! Sweeping in its geographic, temporal, and character sweep, beautifully rendered language, and deeply engaging, Doerr has written a wonderful and affecting novel. He intertwines the parallel stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, the one growing up blind in Paris where her father is the locksmith at the Museum of Natural History while the latter grows up an orphan in the coal fields of Essen with his sister Jutta and Elena. They first meet 10 years after we meet them as St. Malo is being destroyed by the Allies in their final Atlantic shore attacks. A diamond with a deep blue flame interior, a shell shocked great uncle, the French Resistance, a Hitler youth school with its giant Volkheimmer, its weak Frederick, and its brutal commander, and dozens of other wonderful details make for a good old style page turner. The horrors of war, the heartbreaks of loss of parents and siblings, and the resilience of the human condition are Doerr’s themes, and he weaves them together with great skill and beauty. A story that will stay with me for quite some time.