Set in France and Germany during World War II, All the light we cannot see tells the parallel stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, two innocent children who are both caught up in, whilst being at opposite sides of, the horrors of World War II.
Marie-Laure, blind from the age of 6, lives with her father in Paris where he is the master locksmith at the Museum of Natural History. Marie-Laure’s’ father builds her a miniature wooden replica of her neighbourhood, which she memorizes and is then able to navigate her way around. When Marie-Laure is twelve, Paris is occupied by the Nazis. Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo to live with their reclusive Great Uncle and his powerful radio transmitter.
Meanwhile Werner, a brilliant and talented orphaned German boy, grows up dreaming of a world he can only imagine. One he can only connect with by hearing of it through the magic of a stolen radio. As a twelve-year-old, Werner, who possesses extraordinary electronic abilities, is chosen to attend an elite academy for the Hitler Youth. Graduating far too young, Werner is sent, with a team of Nazi soldiers, to track down the resistance who are broadcasting through illegal radio transmissions. Marie Laure and Werner’s paths cross in a way that is both sad and beautiful.
As the two stories of Marie-Laure and Werner are played out, there is sub-plot of the mystery of the “Sea of Flames”, a priceless jewel that prior to the outbreak of war was held in the Museum of National History. Do Marie-Laure and her father have the diamond or just a decoy fake as they hide in Saint-Malo? Will the jewel be discovered? Stolen? Returned? Does it hold the power to redeem?
This is a beautiful and poignant novel, lyrical and descriptive in its writing style. The story is told in both time and setting shifts, which can be a little difficult to connect with at first. However, the novel is so rich and uplifting, it is well worth the effort.