All the Light We Cannot See

( 103 )

Overview

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 ...

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All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

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Overview

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, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Audio
★ 08/01/2014
Zach Appelman narrates Doerr's tender World War II tale of two young people: Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, and Werner, who was orphaned by a tragic mine accident. Marie-Laure's father is the locksmith for a natural history museum, and when Paris falls, he and his daughter escape to the home of her great uncle Etienne in Saint Malo, carrying what may be a priceless diamond. Her father is imprisoned and soon Etienne and Marie-Laure become resistance fighters, sending clandestine radio transmissions. In Germany, Werner escapes the mines because of his mathematical ability and interest in radios and is sent to a training camp for Hitler youth. Werner is conflicted—he is receiving the education he wanted so desperately, but when confronted daily with injustice and brutality, he finally asks to leave. Instead, he is sent to the front. Using technology he helped develop, Werner is charged with finding and eliminating partisans such as Etienne and Marie-Laure. The listener knows that slowly, inextricably, Werner's and Marie-Laure's lives will intersect. But Doerr does not leave listeners in despair. Like light through the clouds, love, hope, and kindness peek through time and again. VERDICT Listeners must attend closely to this story of innocents caught up in the darkness of World War II. But if they do, they are rewarded with an excellent narration of a beautifully written story. ["The novel presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending," read the starred review of the Scribner hc, LJ 2/1/14.]—Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., Temperance, MI
Historical Novel Society
“Sometimes a novel doesn’t merely transport. It immerses, engulfs, keeps you caught within its words until the very end, when you blink and remember there’s a world beyond the pages. All the Light We Cannot See is such a book… Vibrant, poignant, delicately exquisite. Despite the careful building of time and place (so vivid you fall between the pages), it’s not a story of history; it’s a story of people living history.”
USA Today - Sharon Peters
“This tough-to-put-down book proves its worth page after lyrical page…Each and every person in this finely spun assemblage is distinct and true.”
NPR - Alan Cheuse
“Doerr is an exquisite stylist; his talents are on full display.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Tricia Springstubb
“Vivid…[All the Light We Cannot See] brims with scrupulous reverence for all forms of life. The invisible light of the title shines long after the last page.”
BookReporter.com - Michael Magras
“A revelation.”
Bustle.com - Rebecca Kelley
“Doerr conjures up a vibrating, crackling world…Intricately, beautifully crafted.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune - Josh Cook
“Perfectly captured…Doerr writes sentences that are clear-eyed, taut, sweetly lyrical.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Steve Novak
“The craftsmanship of Doerr’s book is rooted in his ability to inhabit the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner…[A] fine novel.”
Christian Science Monitor - Yvonne Zipp
“Doerr deftly guides All the Light We Cannot See toward the day Werner’s and Marie-Laure lives intersect during the bombing of Saint-Malo in what may be his best work to date.”
The Guardian (UK) - Carmen Callil
“Magnificent.”
Los Angeles Times - Steph Cha
“A beautiful, expansive tale…Ambitious and majestic.”
Deseret Morning News - Elizabeth Reed
“Anthony Doerr writes beautifully… A tour de force.”
New Yorker
“Intricate… A meditation on fate, free will, and the way that, in wartime, small choices can have vast consequences.”
Aspen Daily News - Carole O'Brien
“There is so much in this book. It is difficult to convey the complexity, the detail, the beauty and the brutality of this simple story.”
The Missourian - Chris Stuckenschneider
“Beautifully written… Soulful and addictive.”
Booklist (starred review)
“A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. . . . Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably recreates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.”
Portland Oregonian - Alice Evans
“Exquisite…Mesmerizing…Nothing short of brilliant.”
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
“Hauntingly beautiful.”
Seattle Times - Mary Ann Gwinn
“Doerr, a fabulous writer, pens an epic novel about a blind French girl and a German boy in occupied France and their struggles to survive World War II.”
Vanity Fair - Elissa Schappell
“Anthony Doerr again takes language beyond mortal limits.”
Good Housekeeping
“The whole enthralls.”
O, the Oprah magazine - Hamilton Cain
“Incandescent… a luminous work of strife and transcendence… with characters as noble as they are enthralling”
People (3 1/2 stars) - Mary Pols
“History intertwines with irresistible fiction—secret radio broadcasts, a cursed diamond, a soldier’s deepest doubts—into a richly compelling, bittersweet package.”
BBC - Jane Ciabattari
“Intricately structured…All the Light We Cannot See is a work of art and of preservation.”
Shelf Awareness
“Endlessly bold and equally delicate…An intricate miracle of invention, narrative verve, and deep research lightly held, but above all a miracle of humanity….Anthony Doerr’s novel celebrates—and also accomplishes—what only the finest art can: the power to create, reveal, and augment experience in all its horror and wonder, heartbreak and rapture.”
Booklist
“A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. . . . Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably recreates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.”
Frances Itani
"What a delight! This novel has exquisite writing and a wonderfully suspenseful story. A book you'll tell your friends about..."
Abraham Verghese
“This jewel of a story is put together like a vintage timepiece, its many threads coming together so perfectly. Doerr’s writing and imagery are stunning. It’s been a while since a novel had me under its spell in this fashion. The story still lives on in my head.”
Jess Walter
All the Light We Cannot See is a dazzling, epic work of fiction. Anthony Doerr writes beautifully about the mythic and the intimate, about snails on beaches and armies on the move, about fate and love and history and those breathless, unbearable moments when they all come crashing together.”
J.R. Moehringer
“Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet. He knows about everything—radios, diamonds, mollusks, birds, flowers, locks, guns—but he also writes a line so beautiful, creates an image or scene so haunting, it makes you think forever differently about the big things—love, fear, cruelty, kindness, the countless facets of the human heart. Wildly suspenseful, structurally daring, rich in detail and soul, Doerr’s new novel is that novel, the one you savor, and ponder, and happily lose sleep over, then go around urging all your friends to read—now.”
M.L. Stedman
“A tender exploration of this world's paradoxes; the beauty of the laws of nature and the terrible ends to which war subverts them; the frailty and the resilience of the human heart; the immutability of a moment and the healing power of time. The language is as expertly crafted as the master locksmith's models in the story, and the settings as intricately evoked. A compelling and uplifting novel.”
Washington Post - Amanda Vaill
“Enthrallingly told, beautifully written…Every piece of back story reveals information that charges the emerging narrative with significance, until at last the puzzle-box of the plot slides open to reveal the treasure hidden inside.”
The Seattle Times - David Laskin
“Stupendous…A beautiful, daring, heartbreaking, oddly joyous novel.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Stunning and ultimately uplifting… Doerr’s not-to-be-missed tale is a testament to the buoyancy of our dreams, carrying us into the light through the darkest nights.”
The Boston Globe - John Freeman
“Doerr has packed each of his scenes with such refractory material that All the Light We Cannot See reflects a dazzling array of themes….Startlingly fresh.”
San Francisco Chronicle - Dan Cryer
“Gorgeous… moves with the pace of a thriller… Doerr imagines the unseen grace, the unseen light that, occasionally, surprisingly, breaks to the surface even in the worst of times.”
Washington Independent Review of Books - Martha Anne Toll
“To open a book by Anthony Doerr is to open a door on humanity…His sentences shimmer…His paragraphs are luminous with bright, sparkling beauty.”
The Barnes & Noble Review

Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, is set primarily during the Second World War, but it ends in 2014. "Every hour," muses a character on the penultimate page, "someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world." The line offers a poignant reminder that soon, no witnesses will remain to recount what they remember; to an extent we cannot yet measure, novels such as Doerr's will inform how subsequent generations perceive this particular past. Novels can't serve as textbooks, but All the Light We Cannot See imparts an awareness of French and German wartime history that extends beyond the fictional lives of its characters.

Like the architectural models and radio devices that appear throughout the book, the novel is intricately constructed. Some complexity stems from the multiple plotlines: the story of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a sightless young French girl; that of Werner Pfennig, an orphaned native of Germany's coal country; and, in a tertiary thread, the quest of cancer- stricken Austrian gemologist Reinhold von Rumpel. Additionally, the book interweaves segments set during the August 1944 siege of the French city of Saint-Malo with those depicting the central characters — in France, Germany, and elsewhere — as far back as 1934.

As the Germans advance into France in the spring of 1940, Marie-Laure and her devoted father, Daniel, take part in a mass exodus from their Parisian home. They land in Saint-Malo, on France's northwest coast. There, in a city also soon to fall under German occupation (Saint-Malo is far from what became known as the "free zone," based in Vichy), they take refuge with Marie-Laure's great-uncle. And there, Daniel LeBlanc, previously chief locksmith for France's National Museum of Natural History, constructs a model of the city analogous to one he had made back in Paris to help his daughter navigate her immediate world.

Meanwhile, over in Germany, young Werner evinces remarkable interest in and talent for radio communications. Plucked from the orphans' home in which he and his sister, Jutta, have been living, Werner is placed in an elite Nazi training school. In 1942, when he is just sixteen, he is assigned to a technology division of the Wehrmacht. By August 1944, he, too, is in Saint-Malo. As is the gemologist, whom the war has transformed into a quietly terrifying Nazi sergeant-major immensely proud of his own "unnatural patience."

The novel is so rich — with images, descriptions, characters, and history — that this review could be titled "All the Things We Cannot Detail in 700 Words." An incomplete list: The role of music. The legend attached to a precious jewel. Repeated allusions to Jules Verne's work. Doerr's reliance on the present tense. An extraordinary degree of sensory detail (and not only when it comes to Marie-Laure's perceptions, which by definition exclude the visual). Not to mention the powerful concluding chapters, in which Doerr deftly ties together his narrative threads.

The layers of historical context are given similarly thorough attention. Beyond conventional (if nonetheless still shocking) examples of Nazi cruelty, Doerr conveys less familiar aspects of the war: the lingering trauma of the conflict three decades earlier; the plight of French prisoners languishing in Germany; the Russian military's assaults on German women; the siege of Saint-Malo itself. Meanwhile, the German effort to eradicate European Jewry emerges through subtle yet persistent devices. In general, Doerr doesn't render this history explicitly. Rather, he seems to anticipate the reader's ability to infer the significance of von Rumpel's "Aryan" identifications, a Jewish Berliner's disappearance, and the provenance of the "hundreds of little diamonds, most still in necklaces, bracelets, cuff links, or earrings" stored in "a warehouse outside Lodz."

In the hands of some novelists, the weight of all these elements and details might result in a clumsy final product, but All the Light We Cannot See never loses its artistic way. Anyone who has read Doerr's previous books — the short story volumes The Shell Collector and Memory Wall, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome — already knows that the man is a prodigiously gifted writer. Anyone who discovers the author through this book will realize it soon enough.

Erika Dreifus is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories and a former lecturer on history and literature at Harvard University.

Reviewer: Erika Dreifus

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442375420
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 13
  • Sales rank: 83,060
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr is the author of the story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novels All the Light We Cannot See and About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won numerous prizes, including four O. Henry Prizes, three Pushcart Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.

Good To Know

In our interview with Doerr, he revealed some fun facts about himself:

"I hate peanut butter. I loathe it. My mom used to make it from scratch, and I remember watching her pour all that oil into her Cuisinart. And the sound of it, chunking around in there as it got whipped into paste. Ugh!"

"I am a horrific driver in the snow. I get very anxious. I love snow but I feel like humans aren't meant to move 60 mph through it."

"We have a dog named Lucy! She has such a pure heart. She is the best dog that has ever lived."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Tony Doerr
    2. Hometown:
      Boise, Idaho
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 27, 1973
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cleveland, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Bowdoin College, 1995; M.F.A., Bowling Green State University, 1999

Read an Excerpt

All the Light We Cannot See


  • Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a tall and freckled six-year-old in Paris with rapidly deteriorating eyesight when her father sends her on a children’s tour of the museum where he works. The guide is a hunchbacked old warder hardly taller than a child himself. He raps the tip of his cane against the floor for attention, then leads his dozen charges across the gardens to the galleries.

The children watch engineers use pulleys to lift a fossilized dinosaur femur. They see a stuffed giraffe in a closet, patches of hide wearing off its back. They peer into taxidermists’ drawers full of feathers and talons and glass eyeballs; they flip through two-hundred-year-old herbarium sheets bedecked with orchids and daisies and herbs.

Eventually they climb sixteen steps into the Gallery of Mineralogy. The guide shows them agate from Brazil and violet amethysts and a meteorite on a pedestal that he claims is as ancient as the solar system itself. Then he leads them single file down two twisting staircases and along several corridors and stops outside an iron door with a single keyhole. “End of tour,” he says.

A girl says, “But what’s through there?”

“Behind this door is another locked door, slightly smaller.”

“And what’s behind that?”

“A third locked door, smaller yet.”

“What’s behind that?”

“A fourth door, and a fifth, on and on until you reach a thirteenth, a little locked door no bigger than a shoe.”

The children lean forward. “And then?”

“Behind the thirteenth door”—the guide flourishes one of his impossibly wrinkled hands—“is the Sea of Flames.”

Puzzlement. Fidgeting.

“Come now. You’ve never heard of the Sea of Flames?”

The children shake their heads. Marie-Laure squints up at the naked bulbs strung in three-yard intervals along the ceiling; each sets a rainbow-colored halo rotating in her vision.

The guide hangs his cane on his wrist and rubs his hands together. “It’s a long story. Do you want to hear a long story?”

They nod.

He clears his throat. “Centuries ago, in the place we now call Borneo, a prince plucked a blue stone from a dry riverbed because he thought it was pretty. But on the way back to his palace, the prince was attacked by men on horseback and stabbed in the heart.”

“Stabbed in the heart?”

“Is this true?”

A boy says, “Hush.”

“The thieves stole his rings, his horse, everything. But because the little blue stone was clenched in his fist, they did not discover it. And the dying prince managed to crawl home. Then he fell unconscious for ten days. On the tenth day, to the amazement of his nurses, he sat up, opened his hand, and there was the stone.

“The sultan’s doctors said it was a miracle, that the prince never should have survived such a violent wound. The nurses said the stone must have healing powers. The sultan’s jewelers said something else: they said the stone was the largest raw diamond anyone had ever seen. Their most gifted stonecutter spent eighty days faceting it, and when he was done, it was a brilliant blue, the blue of tropical seas, but it had a touch of red at its center, like flames inside a drop of water. The sultan had the diamond fitted into a crown for the prince, and it was said that when the young prince sat on his throne and the sun hit him just so, he became so dazzling that visitors could not distinguish his figure from light itself.”

“Are you sure this is true?” asks a girl.

“Hush,” says the boy.

“The stone came to be known as the Sea of Flames. Some believed the prince was a deity, that as long as he kept the stone, he could not be killed. But something strange began to happen: the longer the prince wore his crown, the worse his luck became. In a month, he lost a brother to drowning and a second brother to snakebite. Within six months, his father died of disease. To make matters even worse, the sultan’s scouts announced that a great army was gathering in the east.

“The prince called together his father’s advisers. All said he should prepare for war, all but one, a priest, who said he’d had a dream. In the dream the Goddess of the Earth told him she’d made the Sea of Flames as a gift for her lover, the God of the Sea, and was sending the jewel to him through the river. But when the river dried up, and the prince plucked it out, the goddess became enraged. She cursed the stone and whoever kept it.”

Every child leans forward, Marie-Laure along with them.

“The curse was this: the keeper of the stone would live forever, but so long as he kept it, misfortunes would fall on all those he loved one after another in unending rain.”

“Live forever?”

“But if the keeper threw the diamond into the sea, thereby delivering it to its rightful recipient, the goddess would lift the curse. So the prince, now sultan, thought for three days and three nights and finally decided to keep the stone. It had saved his life; he believed it made him indestructible. He had the tongue cut out of the priest’s mouth.”

“Ouch,” says the youngest boy.

“Big mistake,” says the tallest girl.

“The invaders came,” says the warder, “and destroyed the palace, and killed everyone they found, and the prince was never seen again, and for two hundred years no one heard any more about the Sea of Flames. Some said the stone was recut into many smaller stones; others said the prince still carried the stone, that he was in Japan or Persia, that he was a humble farmer, that he never seemed to grow old.

“And so the stone fell out of history. Until one day, when a French diamond trader, during a trip to the Golconda Mines in India, was shown a massive pear-cut diamond. One hundred and thirty-three carats. Near-perfect clarity. As big as a pigeon’s egg, he wrote, and as blue as the sea, but with a flare of red at its core. He made a casting of the stone and sent it to a gem-crazy duke in Lorraine, warning him of the rumors of a curse. But the duke wanted the diamond very badly. So the trader brought it to Europe, and the duke fitted it into the end of a walking stick and carried it everywhere.”

“Uh-oh.”

“Within a month, the duchess contracted a throat disease. Two of their favorite servants fell off the roof and broke their necks. Then the duke’s only son died in a riding accident. Though everyone said the duke himself had never looked better, he became afraid to go out, afraid to accept visitors. Eventually he was so convinced that his stone was the accursed Sea of Flames that he asked the king to shut it up in his museum on the conditions that it be locked deep inside a specially built vault and the vault not be opened for two hundred years.”

“And?”

“And one hundred and ninety-six years have passed.”

All the children remain quiet a moment. Several do math on their fingers. Then they raise their hands as one. “Can we see it?”

“No.”

“Not even open the first door?”

“No.”

“Have you seen it?”

“I have not.”

“So how do you know it’s really there?”

“You have to believe the story.”

“How much is it worth, Monsieur? Could it buy the Eiffel Tower?”

“A diamond that large and rare could in all likelihood buy five Eiffel Towers.”

Gasps.

“Are all those doors to keep thieves from getting in?”

“Maybe,” the guide says, and winks, “they’re there to keep the curse from getting out.”

The children fall quiet. Two or three take a step back.

Marie-Laure takes off her eyeglasses, and the world goes shapeless. “Why not,” she asks, “just take the diamond and throw it into the sea?”

The warder looks at her. The other children look at her. “When is the last time,” one of the older boys says, “you saw someone throw five Eiffel Towers into the sea?”

There is laughter. Marie-Laure frowns. It is just an iron door with a brass keyhole.

The tour ends and the children disperse and Marie-Laure is reinstalled in the Grand Gallery with her father. He straightens her glasses on her nose and plucks a leaf from her hair. “Did you have fun, ma chérie?”

A little brown house sparrow swoops out of the rafters and lands on the tiles in front of her. Marie-Laure holds out an open palm. The sparrow tilts his head, considering. Then it flaps away.

One month later she is blind.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 103 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(71)

4 Star

(19)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 103 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2014

    Awesome

    I seldom write a review, but after reading this wonderful book I had to share my thoughts...never heard of this author but was recomended
    This author writes with so much thought and crafting of each chapter I was totally drawn in to the story...I wanted more
    His writing is wonderfully poetic and mesmerizing and informs a good deal of history that most people are probably not aware of
    This rates in the top 10 of my favorite books
    Did not want to put it down and have ordered one of his previous books...please enjoy

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2014

    What a gift to read

    A beautiful, beautiful story. This is what reading is all about. Thank you, Mr. Doerr.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2014

    Never having read an Anthony Doerr book prior to this, I was ins

    Never having read an Anthony Doerr book prior to this, I was inspired to read this only by topic and reviews from B&N ratings.  Not only is the 5-star rating pertinent, if there was a 6-star rating, this book would earn that ranking.  The characters are fully understandable, interesting, and fleshed out.  The historical value of the book rings true to facts regarding the confusing monstrosities of war.  I will definitely invest time to read other Doerr books as quickly as possible!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 18, 2014

    You, Mr. Doerr, have a new fan. Love your writing style. Love

    You, Mr. Doerr, have a new fan. Love your writing style. Love your story - it will stay in my heart for a long, long time - and then I will read it again.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2014

    You will like it.

    One of the best stories I've ever. Beautifully written with history and romance included very gracefully. Don't be put off by the length. The construction of the novel is so unique,
    the story unfolds easily. It is a book that one wished would never end. I recommend it highly.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    All the Light We Cannot See is a poignant look at the devastat

    All the Light We Cannot See is a poignant look at the devastation that comes with war and how it leads people along roads they would never have taken in other circumstances. Set in WW II Germany and France with forays into the Soviet Union, it tells the parallel journeys of Marie Laure, a blind German girl, and Werner Pfennig, a German orphan. Werner’s gift with electronics attracts the attention of Nazi military technicians who drag him into the Hitler Youth and, eventually, into the war where he is responsible for determining the coordinates of enemy resistance fighters using hidden radios. Marie Laure is the beloved daughter of the French National Museum locksmith. He flees Paris with his daughter when the Germans invade, going to stay with his housebound uncle, Etienne, in St. Malo.

    The book begins when the child Werner and Etienne’s paths cross over the radio waves. Etienne brother had recorded ten children’s radio shows and Etienne played them over the wireless radio. Werner and his sister listened to them faithfully sparking Werner’s interest in science and electronics. Interestingly, the book ends when the soldier Werner’s path crosses with Marie Laure. He hears Marie Laure reading a book over the same wireless while requesting help between sentences and goes to her aid instead of reporting her. Between these two events, Doerr shows the paths followed by the two children and how their personal characteristics determine the wartime choices they make. Part of the story includes the search for an ancient diamond rumored to bring death to those closest to the person who owns it. Marie Laure is at the crux of this portion of the story. She must decide whether to hold on to the stone or get rid of it. The question in her mind is whether the rumors are true and can she affect whether the stone’s power will prevail.

    Some readers may be confused by Doerr’s use of parallel stories while moving back and forth in time, however, if readers pay attention to the time lines at the beginning of each chapter, they should not have difficulty keeping up with the story. All the Light We Cannot See examines the roads ordinary people take to protect themselves when faced with circumstances beyond their control.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    My kind of book. I like and need the history -- if you don't hav

    My kind of book. I like and need the history -- if you don't have a setting you don't understand the people. He did a lot of research on a number of things.
    I bet he can put together a radio in no time. Try it, you'll like it!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2014

    Just outstanding! Sentences flow off the pages as one gem after

    Just outstanding! Sentences flow off the pages as one gem after another.  Character development is full and rich! A wonderfully constructed story of a time to remember, show in a unique way.  You will love this book!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2014

    This book is the standard by which all beautiful books should be

    This book is the standard by which all beautiful books should be held. 

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2014

    A FANTASTIC READ

    Each year I yearn for a book that pulls me in and doesn't let go! This story is one I did not want to end! Beautifully written and one I will remember for a very long time. I have recommended it over and over again!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2014

    Very simply.....stunning!

    Very simply.....stunning!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2014

    Highly Recommended - presentation awesome!

    The author has done an incredible job with this book. Telling about World War II from the perspective of these children, coming of age. (German and French) Amazing story, how do people survive emotionally and mentally after such an experience? What a loss to society when people "turn" on each other. A lesson human beings never seem to learn. Can't wait to share it at book club. I will read other books by Doerr.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2014

    Wonderful read.

    Beautifully written. I couldn't put it down. The characters stayed with me long after finishing the book. One of my favorite reads in a very long time.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    : )

    : )

    3 out of 55 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2014

    very thoughtful and eloquent writing.  Exceptional from start to

    very thoughtful and eloquent writing.  Exceptional from start to finish.  Will engage you from the very first page, and leave you wanting for more......

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2014

    A great and thoughtful book!

    Although long,this book is destined to become a classic!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    Instant Classic

    I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and still can't get over how much I enjoyed reading it. Beautifully written.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    Great 5 stars

    Excellent, loved the writing style. A WWII story told from a whole different point of view. Magical

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2014

    Truly enjoyed this book

    Its historical significance added to the lovely story. Would highly recommend

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing book. Great story,  and well written. Amazing story of e

    Amazing book. Great story,  and well written. Amazing story of events during the era of WW 2. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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