Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

April 29, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
531 pages
Audible version

From the Publisher:

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).



If you have not heard anything about this book, I am not sure where you have been in the last couple years.  All the Light You Cannot See was published in 2014 and has won a Pulitzer Prize.  Honestly, I’m not sure why it took me so long to read this book.  I’ve downloaded a sample on my Kindle a couple times but never been in the mood or got past the sample chapters before this past month.  I’ve been listening to audio books at work in the morning and occasionally while I run and I have really been interested in historical/war fiction lately.  Then I saw a sale on the audio version too – so I thought I would finally give this book one more try.  I am SO glad I finally did!

I really liked this story.  I took a LONG time to listen to it, because I didn’t want to rush through it.  I would listen to it and then think about it all day.  It gave me so much to think about.  I think the only thing that I didn’t really love about this story was that  I wasn’t crazy about how the book jumped in time back and forth, that was a little bit hard to follow because I was listening to it, but other than that I really enjoyed it.  I found this video from Doerr about the history of the book and found it really interesting the stories he decided to tell and how it all came together.

If you haven’t read this book – I highly recommend it.  I finally see why everyone kept telling me to read it.  A couple read-a-likes for this book include: Lilac Girls, The Nightingale, and Sarah’s Key.

Final Score:

5 stars

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