08 December 2016

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Published: 2014
# of Pages: 530
Source: Audiobook from Overdrive 

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).

Set against the back drop of WWII, All The Light We Cannot See explores the life and challenges of a blind French girl and a German boy forced to fight in a violent and bloody war. What captivated my attention the most about this novel was definitely the writing. It was so fluid and beautiful that the reader could tell the author spent a significant amount of time crafting every single sentence. It's not often that I come across books that make me feel that way. With that being said there are two other elements of the book I wish to discuss mainly in the form of the characters and plot. 

Characters: Doerr created some of the most realistic characters I've seen in a long time. Marie Laure was the epitome of courage. She was brave, intelligent, gifted, and seemingly knew all the crooks and corners of Paris despite the fact that she was blind. Watching her navigate through the hardships of the war was difficult to read. At her age I do not think it would have ever been possible for a child to be so actively involved in the Resistance against Germany. She was always willing to risk her life to empower the French people. In the same respect we meet Werner, a young boy, whose ability to work with radios propels him to work in Hitler's regiment of military youth. What I enjoyed most about his character is the fact that despite all the negative propaganda he witnessed he still turned out to be such a wonderful and heartfelt character that truly cared about the well being of others. 

Plot: In terms of the plot, I will say that it is fast in some parts and slow in others. The best advice that I would give for the plot is to be patient and really appreciate the writing. He writes in a manner that draws the reader in regardless of whether the plot is slow or not. Appreciate the building of the story as well as giving the author the opportunity to work towards the big reveals of the story. 

If you are interested in historical fiction with a plot that works on your emotions and contains the most beautiful writing then I would recommend this book. It truly was an amazing novel and it never failed to captivate me or pull in my attention. 



  1. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it! I'm a sucker for historical fiction, especially WW2 based. I'm dying to get my hands on this. I've heard it was nothing but completely beautiful. Great review!

    1. It really is a beautiful book. After you read this check out The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It's another beautiful WWII historical fiction novel.