ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE – Anthony Doerr

Hitler is in power and Germany is on the brink of another war.  In Paris, near the Museum of Natural History, live a blind child Marie-Laurie and her father who works at the museum as a master of locks.  The Nazis are invading Paris and Marie-Laurie and her father escape to Saint-Malo where father’s reclusive great-uncle lives.

The museum curator is packing artefacts to hide from the Nazis.  A fabulous gem stone is a part of the museum collection; the curator has three identical fake gemstones created.  The most trusted of the museum staff are given a gemstone to carry with them when they flee.  Each of the carriers think that they hold the real gem and will go to any lengths to protect the stone; only the curator knows who has the real stone. Marie-Laurie’s father is entrusted with a stone; is it a fake or is it real?

In Germany, orphan Werner lives with his sister and other orphan children in the care of kindly Frau Elena.  Werner is a gifted child who finds and is fascinated by a discarded broken radio.  From bits he scrounges he modifies and fixes the old radio opening a new world of sound and information to all the children.

Werner is selected to try for a position in a military academy where only the very finest of youth will qualify to study and trained for the Fatherland.   Many of Germany’s finest youth try but fail to pass the gruelling entrance tests.  Werner’s talent for radio is quickly discovered and he is assigned to a professor in a science laboratory studying radio frequency location.

The chapters follow the lives of Werner and Marie-Laurie until their paths meet in Saint-Malo where the allied forces are bombing the city and preparing to take Saint-Malo back from the retreating German army.

It is a well written story with short chapters that make for easy reading.  I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more by this author.  The book is available in large print from the Gold Coast City Library.