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All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr
A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel 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 within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781476746586
ISBN-10: 1476746583
Publication Date: 5/6/2014
Pages: 531
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 280 ratings
Publisher: Scribner
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback
Members Wishing: 0
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on + 1400 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
Sometimes I struggle to write a review. Not true this time. All the Light We Cannot See was sent to me by the publisher in two forms - audio and hardback print. It's wonderful. I was mesmerized from the beginning. The plot would seem to circle around the lose of a famous diamond that is cursed and housed in the Museum of Natural History in Paris. It is said that whoever possesses the diamond will live forever but will lose all his friends and family, one by one. So the story begins.

Yet this is a tale of war and of the people it affects. There is a French girl, Marie-Laure, who is blind who lives with her beloved father who works as a locksmith for the museum. There is an orphan boy, Werner, who is entranced with radios and how they work and finds himself recruited into German youth training. There is a self-centered general, Von Rumpel, whose cruelty is matched only by his drive to find the diamond that may save his life. These are key characters, yes, but others add so much depth.

Marie-Laure's uncle and his housekeeper are active in the resistance and risk their lives daily. The reader can't help but experience their fear and courage as they continue to work against German occupation. There is Werner's sister, Jutta, who struggles to survive starvation, rape and war itself and thinking often about her brother. Volkheimer, the gentle giant with a cruel reputation, was a friend to Werner but whose friendship he questions. Will he expose Werner's actions when they do not support the war? And, there is Frederick whose love for birds and independent thought expose him to beatings during training that damage his brain yet leave him living.

Can I write more? Yes, there is the reality of war, hope and survival expressed over and over again. This is a novel to be read, experienced and remembered. I absolutely loved it and can't recommend it enough. I'm overjoyed that the publisher sent it.
junie avatar reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on + 630 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Beautifully written with characters you care for immediately. Marie is a blind French girl and her story is told in alternating short chapters along with a very intelligent German youth named Werner during the occupation of France in WW2.

The only problem I had was the time shifts, as I found myself having to go back to see which time period I was reading about. Otherwise, the story was intriguing enough to keep me reading until the end. It was a sad story, but had a satisfactory conclusion. Excellent book which I wholeheartedly recommend.
23dollars avatar reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on + 432 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
This was the February 2015 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove.

I must say, I have mixed feelings about this read. On one hand, I thought the writing was very elegant, beautifully poetic and high quality. But on the other hand, the execution of the time shifts seriously choked the pacing of the narrative far too much. The brief glimpse a few years ahead was engaging, but once the narrative shifted into the main backstory, the train almost stopped moving altogether! What's more, the technique wasn't even used for foreshadowing or to create mystery. There seemed to be no real purpose for the time shifts at all.

Werner, a young German boy, and Marie-Laure, a young French girl, both come to life in this WWII period and the author's descriptions of how each discovers all the light they cannot see is definitely worthwhile. The writing has a rich texture to it, and creates a great sense of atmosphere, but in the end, I was disappointed and found myself eager to get to the end.

Overall, would I be willing to read more from this author? Yes, I would. The quality of the writing was impressive enough to overshadow the pacing issue I didn't care for. B-/C+
lmntree avatar reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I did enjoy this book. I have to say that I wish I hadn't read it immediately after finishing The Book Thief, which I absolutely loved. Both books take place in the early 40's , from the points of view of people on different sides of that horrible time in Germany and France. All of the stories are captivating, I just felt more for Markus Zusak's characters.
njmom3 avatar reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on + 1302 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a World War II story, but it is not about the politics, battles, winners, or losers of the war. It is about two young individuals - one on either side of the conflict - who are both victims of the war. The intricate, circular structure of the book between Marie-Laure's story and Werner's story provides a beautiful rhythm and flow to the story.

Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/09/all-light-we-cannot-see.html
Read All 31 Book Reviews of "All the Light We Cannot See"

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reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on
Great book, but I didn't like the ending.
author-wwiinovel avatar reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on + 21 more book reviews
This World War II novel was of great interest to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, its setting in that time period is a source of endless fascination for me as I love to read about it, and now to write about it in my own novel, Journey To Marseilles, which also takes place during that global conflagration. Secondly, it is a dual narrativeâas is Journey To Marseillesâwith storylines that finally dovetail in conclusion.

It is a story of searches. The blind French youngster, Marie-Laure LeBlanc, searches her way through city streets with nothing to aid her but a cane and miniature neighborhood models that her locksmith father constructs for her, and at the same time navigates her way through the hardships and complications of the war that threatens her very existence. The scientifically precocious German boy, Werner Pfennig, in his search for knowledge and a way out of an orphanage, finds himself being trained in a regimented Nazi youth camp and finally electronically searching the battlefields for enemies of the Reich. And finally, a Nazi treasure hunter searches for a priceless and legendary gem he believes may have the power to save his life.

With an eloquence of language and heartbreaking imagery, Anthony Doerr deftly conducts the reader on a fascinating search for a fulfilling conclusion. I can't recommend this novel highly enough.
reviewed All the Light We Cannot See on + 11 more book reviews
I agree it was somewhat difficult to keep track of the present and future of several different characters in this novel, but once you got the hang of it, it wasn't so bad.
The story itself is amazing and I am so grateful for those who have the imagination and skill to write such a compelling story. I've read a lot of novels that take place in World War I and World War II and this certainly was one of the best.


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