Saturday, March 5, 2016

*Review* All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Photo Credit: Goodreads
Genre: Historical Fiction/WWII
Published: May 6, 2014
Pages: 545
Setting: Saint-Malo, France


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.


This was my book club's selection for our meeting in February and I actually managed to finish it in time (barely). One of these months I might actually not put off reading our book club book until the last minute, but probably not.

One of the things I really liked about this book was how it gave us several different perspectives of the war, but it really focused on just two of them more than the others; one from each side of the conflict. If you learned anything about WWII in history, and really who didn't, you know that the Nazis were the bad guys. Read this book made it really hard to believe that all the soldiers fighting for Germany were bad guys though. There were a couple of them that I was really rooting for, in fact.

Another high point of the story for me is that I was firmly implanted in the shoes of whoever I was following at any point in time (which is probably part of why I was rooting for a couple of the Germans.) The descriptions were excellent and I really empathized with most of the characters.

The story alternates between being told in "present" time (1944) and past (the time leading up to that point). The only time that confused me was when the past was really close to the present, and then I had to pay close attention to the specific dates. 

Overall I give this book 5 out of 5 stars because it made me empathize with the enemy and the good guys all at the same time and kept me interested in the story until the end. - Katie 

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About the Author

Anthony Doerr is the author of five books, The Shell Collector About Grace Memory Wall Four Seasons in Rome and All the Light We Cannot See . Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the Story Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Award, and the Ohioana Book Award three times. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho. Become a fan on Facebook and stay up-to-date on his latest publications.

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