This is the book I have been waiting for: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. If you are a reader you wait for that book that you don't want to put down but you also do not want to end. It's rare.
I savored this book, stretched it out as long as I could. When I heard it was set during WWII I was not excited. I had vowed not to read anymore novels set during the war or of slavery. While they are mostly all wonderful it just felt like enough was enough - but this one is different.
First, the writing is exquisite. Every page has at least one beautiful sentence that you want to write down, underline, keep in your heart. There is not a single cliche in the 530 pages - quite a feat for a writer. (I love long books too). I'm sure Doerr spent years in research, but you never feel like you are supposed to be learning something historic. You are caught up in the experience of these two young people.
Marie-Laure is the girl at the heart of the story. Some of the best writing is seeing the world through the perceptions of this blind girl:
Music spirals out of the radios, and it is splendid to drowse on the davenport, to be warm and fed, to feel the sentences hoist her up and carry her somewhere else.
Marie-Laure sits at the square table, a plate of cookies in front of her, and imagines the old woman with the veiny hands and milky eyes and oversize ears. From the kitchen window comes the wit wit wit of a barn swallow, footfalls on ramparts, halyards clinking against masts, hinges and chains creaking in the harbor. Ghosts. Germans. Snails.
You know from reviews that it is the story of two young lives are interwoven at some point, but it happens in an unexpected way.
There are so many awful books that make it to the fiction best seller list that it was a relief to find one that actually belongs there.