All the Light We Cannot See

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Modern Age

All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Doerr, Anthony
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1934-2014
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: France, Germany
Topics: WWII
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Young Adult, Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2014

World History > Modern Age > WWII

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, the beloved instant New York Times bestseller and New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book 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, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

Emily's Review

Cinematic. That's how I would describe this novel. The writing is stunning, and the nuance and the way the characters are written is brilliant. We follow two characters in this story - Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives with her father in Paris, and Werner, a German orphan who is a brilliant engineer. We follow these two characters throughout the war and see how their paths converge.

I loved the writing, I loved how easily this book reads. It's over 500 pages but I flew through it in just a few days because the chapters were all so short. But in the end, I felt like there was something missing. I never felt a deep connection to any of the characters. I also thought the end of the novel was too drawn out. There were multiple places it could have ended, but it just kept going.

I can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into this story - the way the author wove these characters' stories together was so smart and so well done. In the end, I enjoyed the story, but unfortunately, I don't think it will become a favorite.

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