All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

#1 rule of life: happiness = outcome – expectation. ATLWCS’s hype led to its downfall. I really don’t see how this book got its crazy great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (which generally has lower ratings). Maybe I’m tired of reading stories about how kids overcame adversity during WWII. I found myself thinking of the Book Thief the entire time. That said, the imagery is excellent and definitely something special.

1) “‘Now that shell, Laurette, belonged to a violet sea snail, a blind snail that lives its whole life on the surface of the sea. As soon as it is released into the ocean, it agitates the water to make bubbles, and binds those bubbles with mucus, and builds a raft. Then it blows around, feeding on whatever floating aquatic invertebrates it encounters. But if it ever loses its raft, it will sink and die…'” – Dr. Geffard

Genius survival method. And a great metaphor for Marie-Laure.

2) “He says everyone remembers the last war, and no one is mad enough to go through that again.”

They say WWIII will never happen because the global economy is too interconnected. I doubt this is sufficient reason.

3) For their final test, each of the fourteen-year-olds is forced to climb a ladder haphazardly nailed to a wall. Once at the top, twenty-five feet above the floor, their heads in the rafters, they are supposed to step onto a tiny platform, close their eyes, and leap off, to be caught in a flag held by a dozen of the other recruits.”

Group mentality and trust is powerful but dangerous.

4) “‘Did you know,’ says Marie-Laure, ‘that the chance of being hit by lightning is one in a million? Dr. Geffard taught me that.’ ‘In one year or in one lifetime?’ ‘I’m not sure.’ ‘You should have asked'”- Marie-Laure and Etienne

90% of statistics mean nothing without context.

5) “‘Some people are weak in some ways, sir. Others in other ways.'” – Frederick

Everyone has his/her utility function and his/her stats. Just gotta maximize given whatever constraints life gives you.

6) “The entropy of a closed system never decreases.”

In the end, trying to make everything uniform just turned into more chaos.

7) “So really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.”

It didn’t hit me what the book title was about until this line 2/3 into the book. The radio is light we cannot see.

8) “Gray was stone. Brown was soil. Pink was flesh.”

One example of the great imagery here.

9) “She finds she can sleep only two or three hours at a time. Phantom shells wake her.”

This is real. I heard bombs and alarms for two months after Israel.

10) “She is certain that he was wounded in the war, that he will try to start a conversation, that her deficient French will betray her.”

It’s mindboggling that there are people who lived through WWII (like my grandma). How do they reconcile their childhood with what’s going on now? This is why I’m wary of asking older people for advice. Everyone grew up in different times. What worked 40 years ago doesn’t necessarily work now.

If Book Thief became a movie, ATLWCS will most likely follow suit. I’ll try my best not to watch it.

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