Welcome to another edition of Between the Lines. This book club has been so informative and I have been able to read so many books I haven’t thought to read before – and we are only 3 months in. It’s pretty amazing!
I had heard so many great things about All The Light We Cannot See, and I got a copy of it for Christmas, so I knew that this would be one of the books chosen for Between the Lines. I am so happy that we read this for March. It’s such a great story and a wonderful book.
All The Light We Cannot See takes place during World War II and it is told from 2 different perspectives. You have Warner who is an orphaned German living in an orphanage. As a young child, he has an affinity for fixing radios. Him and his sister love listening to a Frenchman’s radio broadcasts and dream about a different life. Then the war happens. Warner is chosen to go to a special school to train to fight for Hitler. His sole job is to find traitors in other countries broadcasting information. He does this well, but is haunted by what he is doing and what he has seen. As luck would have it, he finds himself in France near the end of the war…
The second perspective is from a young French girl named Marie-Laure. Her story is quite different from Warner’s because she is blind. She can’t physically see what is going on around her, but she can feel it and she can sense it. Her father suddenly disappears so, it is up to her hermit uncle to help Marie-Laure when the war hits. Her grandfather was the “Frenchman” that Warner and his sister listen to before the war, and she learns how to transmit from that same radio while the war is going on. She reads a book throughout the book, which is a wonderful theme.
1. When Werner and Jutta first hear the Frenchman on the radio, he concludes his broadcast by saying “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever”. How do you think this phrase relates to the overall message of the story?
Seeing that Marie-Laure is blind, I think that this quote relates so well to the rest of the story. She is able to hear and feel things that a person with sight wouldn’t probably see. She can sense emotions before the person who is experiencing those emotions knows what is going on. Since Marie-Laure’s sight was taken away from her when she was a child, she remembers seeing some things, but can’t remember everything.
2. Why do you think Marie-Laure gave Werner the little iron key? Why might Werner have gone back for the wooden house but left the Sea of Flames?
When I first came up with these questions, I thought that Marie-Laure and Werner would have more time together. But they are only with each other for less than 24 hours. I think she left the key for him because she trusted him. Even though they had only known each other such a short amount of time, he did save her life.
You know, I’m not sure why Werner didn’t take the Sea of Flames. I don’t know why he didn’t pick it up and just put it in his pocket. Maybe his fate would have been different if he had. But, maybe it’s because he knew that the house was more important to him than the Sea of Flames. She gave him the house, so he could have taken that as her loving him back (even if she didn’t).
3. The author writes, “To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness.” What did you learn or realize about blindness through Marie-Laure’s perspective? Do you think her being blind gave her any advantages?
This book showed me so much about blindness that I really never thought about before. Being blind isn’t always a bad thing. Yes, you don’t have sight. But you are more keen on all the other senses to compensate. Shutting your eyes doesn’t mean you are blind. You have to open yourself up to being blind and let the other senses become dominate to really know what blindness is like.
She was able to see the world in a completely different way. She experienced the war completely differently than someone who can see. I don’t know if I would call them advantages, but she was able to make it through the war and be reunited with her uncle, in the end. I also think that she showed great persistence throughout the war and her situation. If she had never gone up to her grandfather’s radio, Warner would have never heard her and known to go find her. And she would have never started reading “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.
4. The narration moves back and forth both in time and between different characters. How do you think the experience would have been different if the story had been told entirely in chronological order?
At first, this was a bit confusing, but once you figured out what was going on and what year you were in, it made so much sense. I loved the way the book was written and that it went between the characters and between time. I can’t say how it would be different if it was in chronological order, but I do know that it would be very different than the way it was written. It probably wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting if it had been written chronologically.
What were your thoughts about All The Light You Cannot See?
April’s book is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Come and link up with us on April 21st to discuss these questions:
1. Do you trust Cady’s narration? Is she lying…or hallucinating?
2. Were the Liars justified in any way to commit the crime they committed?
Now it is time to linkup! Share your thoughts about All The Light We Cannot See!