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All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, has been selected by The New York Times as one of the ten best novels of the year, and is a finalist for the prestigious 2014 National Book Award 2014 in the United States. It is the book that has spent the second longest time on the list of bestselling titles in 2014, after Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch. Translation rights for the novel have been sold to 28 countries, and it has received highly positive reviews from specialist journalists for publications like The Washington Post and The Guardian.
Set during the Second World War, Anthony Doerr’s novel focuses on two characters who despite belonging to opposing sides have much in common. All the Light We Cannot See has seduced thousands of readers through its very human way of telling the story of two young people amidst a dramatic historical context.
Marie-Laure has been blind since she was six years old. She lives with her father in Paris, a few steps away from the Museum of Natural History, where he works as a locksmith. At the start of World War Two, when the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo, a small city on the coast of Brittany. There live Marie-Laure’s great uncle Etienne, an agoraphobic old man still traumatized by the effects of the Great War, and Madame Manec, his housekeeper.
During the same years but in a peripheral German mining town, an orphan boy named Werner, grows up with his younger sister in an orphanage. The siblings’ life changes dramatically the day they find a broken old radio. Werner’s obsession with it, combined with a talent for electronics, help him to win a place at a military academy as élite as it is brutal, where he is exposed to the atrocities of the Nazi doctrine. However, for all the barbarism he must confront, the goodness of Werner remains intact even when he is ordered to the front, where he is ordered to track radio transmissions from the Resistance. After traveling through part of Europe with the Hitler Youth, Werner arrives in Saint-Malo.
During the last hours of the occupation, both in extreme danger, the destinies of Marie-Laure and Werner cross, changing the path of both lives forever. Skillfully interlinking the stories of the two magnetic protagonists, the author calls attention to the light that exists amidst the shadows of war, and the way in which despite everything people remain being good to one another.
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