HAJET Book Club: All the Light We Cannot See


For the first book club of the new JET year, fourteen ALTs found themselves gathering at Tits Park fooled by the weather, wearing layers meant for the previous day’s chill. While waiting for everyone to arrive we made our introductions, some for the second and third time, and were also graced with the presence of an Awaji ALT, not actually going to the meeting but simply recovering from the night before and three Japanese males freestylin’. Once gathered the group made its way toward what many would consider a hipster part of town between Sannomiya and Motomachi. It is a prime location for any meeting with pedestrian streets surrounded by unique clothing stores, cafés, and restaurants.

Arriving at Bambino Kobe Coffee on a third floor, we entered into a cabin themed café decorated with wood tables, counters and images reminiscent of Bambi. It’s a cozy atmosphere where guests have the option of sitting at tables or on comfortable couches. Our host, Mr. Shinohara Tomoyuki, already had water waiting at our tables and after looking over the menu many of us ordered food and drinks before diving into the conversation. The lunch menu included salad and a number of pastas, including your usual spaghetti with tomato sauce, but with an option to put a cheese omelet on top. Others opted for the breakfast-dessert fusion choosing French toast or waffles topped with a healthy serving of cream.

As the food was being prepared and trickled out, conversation about the book started. Most had a positive opinion about All the Light We Cannot See, a historical fiction following the lives of a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and a young German boy named Werner during World War II, and praised the short chapters that allowed them to read at a quick pace. Though a compelling story, some did suggest author Anthony Doerr created an unnecessary amount of sadness that added nothing to the plot. However, the reality of war and World War II specifically is tremendously sad and horrific something even this novel cannot fully express and is only known by those who experienced the brutality firsthand. Participants also discussed radio’s role in the Nazi’s rise to power, noting similarities and differences between today’s technological advances and their societal effects.

group 2              Similar to past book clubs, as the conversation wrapped up JETs took the time to share how their time on the program was going. It’s always refreshing to see and talk with people that rarely get the chance to spend time together. Lastly, we voted on our new book and date for the next meeting. Join us next time as we discuss South African author Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls. A time-traveling thriller similar to Looper, in which Harper Curtis finds a house that allows him to travel through time, but only if he continues to kill “the shining girls.” Hunting down these girls mercilessly, he believes he is unstoppable, that is until one of his victims survives. If you are interested please RSVP to the event on the Facebook page here. One last incentive (as if you need another) is the possibility to catch a movie after the meeting, something I’m sure the six individuals who watched Guardians of the Galaxy after the first discussion are hoping to make a post-book club tradition.



Sean Mulvihill


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