We Can See the Light

For me, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doer, was very meh. I’m always torn about what to do with a book like this. Everyone loved this book. My review is probably not the one to go by. Hell, it won the freaking Pulitzer. (This book another example of why I think the Pulitzer is a total waste of time.) Granted, the book started out beautifully. The writing was poetic, the story was hopeful, and I was hooked. Part of the story tells the story of a blind girl in France whose father whisks her away in the middle of the night to escape the German occupation. The other half is the story of a German boy who becomes a Nazi. The book starts out with uncertainty about the future of both characters, but coincidence and even a bit of magic are guaranteed.

Initially, it’s an absolute page-turner. About a third of the way through, I started to get irritated with how quickly the author switched back and forth between the two characters. Rarely did a character get more than about 2-3 pages before I’d get ripped from their story and thrown into the other’s. Then, about halfway through, the book just got boring. It started to feel like the author wasn’t really sure where he was going with the book. Was the Nazi going to turn into a good guy or not? The author seemed like he wasn’t sure, so he just kept dragging the story on and on. Ultimately, the characters showed very little growth, which is hugely disappointing. The ending was also not happy, which is as it should be given that this is a story about World War II. But the ending was a total cop-out, without the author having to actually consider his character’s impact. It was like he wanted to have a Nazi in a story, without dealing with the negative aspects of what it means for a character to be an unrepentant Nazi. But far, far worse was the fact that the end of the Nazi should have been the end of the story (or close to it), but instead, the book just kept going and going.

Overall, I got the impression that the author had a great idea that he didn’t know what to do with. This was one of those books that I don’t see eye-to-eye with everyone else though. I don’t recommend this book, but given how many people LOVED it, I rate this book as a “maybe you should read it.”