Pulitzer Prize Novel: All the Light We Cannot See

I might have been a little ambitious for my second book of the year by choosing one that was 530 pages. But, hey, that’s what a reading challenge is for, right? For the category “a novel that won the Pulitzer Prize” I chose to read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Pulitzer DoerrI am very wary of modern literature – I never know what the content will be like, or the level of writing. I had seen several recommendations for this novel (published in 2014), plus the fact that it won the Pulitzer, so I decided to give it a go. And I am so glad I did.

This fictional novel takes place during World War II and revolves around the true story of the 1944 seige of a French coastal town named Saint-Malo. Doerr’s poetic language and vivid imagery create a complex, beautiful, and tragic world. The novel jumps between the stories of two main characters, as their lives move towards convergence. It also jumps around through time. I thought the back and forth would be annoying and stifle the overall flow of the book, but the simultaneous narratives to build an anxious anticipation as the story moves towards its culmination. Not surprisingly, the novel is heartbreaking and difficult to read at times as it depicts the physical, emotional, and psychological costs of war, but it is one of the best books I have read in quite some time.

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