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All the Light There Was

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,022 ratings  ·  138 reviews
All the Light There Was is the story of an Armenian familys struggle to survive the Nazi occupation of Paris in the 1940sa lyrical, finely wrought tale of loyalty, love, and the many faces of resistance.

On the day the Nazis march down the rue de Belleville, fourteen-year-old Maral Pegorian is living with her family in Paris; like many other Armenians who survived the
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published March 12th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,022 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book yesterday on my lunch hour at work and could not go to bed until I had finished it last night.

It is the story of an Armenian community in France (mainly Paris) during WW II when the Germans had occupied the country.

The novel is "bittersweet" in my opinion and is a mixture of history/romance/suspense.
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it

"In writing All the Light There Was, I wasnt interested in outsized heroism; I was interested in small defiant acts that make dignity and integrity possible in the face of a brutal occupation. It was a time when there was very little light, literally because of blackouts and shortages, and figuratively because of the repression and violence that accompanied collaborationist and Nazi rule." (Nancy Kricorian, author)

"All the Light There Was" is a wartime romance depicting the plight of the
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really good book!! If you've read Sarah's Key then you'll be familiar with the events of this book. This story of the roundup of Jews in Paris during WW2 is told from the perspective of a young Armenian catholic woman who's family has fled to escape the persecution from Turks. She watches her friends be round up and sent to their final destinations of Auschwitz and Buchenwald...she experiences love, loss, but in the end a life that gives readers hope that during this dark time in the world ...more
Levon Thomassian
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing

As an historian of WWII Armenian history, I highly recommend Kricorian's book. She really did her homework on this, and her historical references were dead on. On the surface, All The Light There Was is both an Armenian coming of age and love story taking place in German-occupied France. It's an historical fiction that's hard to put down once you start reading. You don't have to be an Armenian to appreciate this book, though I believe that Armenians do have an advantage due to Kricorian's use of

Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from a goodreads giveaway!
This book was beautiful and complex and I'm still crying. I definitely want to read the other things this author has written. There were lots of details and very realistic characters. It had a very unique perspective. There were some things that I called and others that completely shocked me. This is a book that I'll want to read over and over again.
Jan 11, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a solid 4 star book until the last chapter, when it seemed like the author ran out of time and had to submit the book as is. What I particularly enjoyed was reading about a tight-knit Armenian community living in Paris during the Occupation.
Lyn (Readinghearts)
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: WWII historical fiction readers
Recommended to Lyn (Readinghearts) by: Sisterhood of the Traveling Book
It seems that the newest trend in Historical Fiction is novels about WWII. There have been a number of books on this subject lately, and a lot of them are very good. Nancy Kricorian's novel All the Light There Was is one of those books. The story is narrated by Maral, and teenage Armenian girl living in Paris at the time that the Nazi's invade France and the Occupation of Paris begins. Through Maral's eyes we see what it is like to have lived in Paris during the war. Her character allows us to ...more
I think it sucks when you write a review and it doesnt post.
will do again,but not now.

To flee or to take a stand?
That was the ultimate question facing Parisians as the Nazi herde approached. For the pegorian family,refugees of the Armenian holocaust,
"remaining where we had a roof over our heads...was better than wandering across the countryside to God knows where." The father decides:We're staying put." p3

This book is the account of that time,told from the point of view of Maral,the daughter of
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Read my full review:

My opinion: This book was amazing. So intelligently written, it reminded me of the works of Chris Bohjalian. There was nothing sticky sweet about this book. It was an incredible raw look at life in France and the daily impact of trying to survive a movement that doesn't want you to survive. This book was intense and powerful when one thinks about the reality of Maral's situation.

Why the 4 stars instead of 5? There was some dryness to the writing that
Julie  Durnell
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A short historical fictional story of Armenian families in wartime Paris, Maral's viewpoint was well written of this heartbreaking time in history. The Armenian culture was depicted well without it being the main focus.
Barbara Nutting
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful and poignant story set amidst the horror of Hitlers Paris. It read like a true story and Im sure it must parallel many events that actually did take place. It brings to mind the tragedy in our own country, families torn apart by our very own Hitler. At least now thousands of people are taking to the streets in protest, unlike the Holocaust. How different history might have been if fear hadnt haunted the people who let their Jewish neighbors be carted away. Same with Manzanar, ...more
Robbins Library
Maral and her brother Missak are the children of orphans; their parents' families were killed in the Armenian genocide, and came to Paris to begin a new life together. The family of four lives in a small apartment in Belleville along with the mother's sister - the children's Auntie Shakeh - who also survived the genocide. When the Germans invade Paris, the whole family endures the wartime conditions of hunger and fear, and Missak and his friends Zaven and Bartek (brothers) begin working for the ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
When the Nazis marched on Paris on June 14, 1940, a four-year occupation of the city began, leaving a mark of hunger, despair, and brutality on its citizens. In the midst of it all is the Pegorian family, Armenian refugees who are at the center of All the Light There Was. Maral Pegorian is 14 when the occupation begins and her brother Missak is 16. For them, the real sign that the occupation has begun is not the sound of German boots marching through the streets, or the ominous sight of tanks, ...more
Laurie Larson-Doornbos
Maral is fifteen, Armenian, and living in Paris at the time of the German occupation. Life is not easy in the cramped apartment she shares with her mother, father, aging aunt, and brother. Food is scarce and rationed, most meals consisting of bulgar and turnips. But her father, a cobbler, maintains a steady flow of customers, her mother is a seamstress and her aunt knits on commission, so at least at the beginning of the war, their lives maintain a semblance of normalcy.

Maral and her brother
Don O'goodreader
World War II. Paris. All the Light There Was by Nancy Kricorian serves up an fresh and innocent retelling through Maral Pegorian, a girl separated from Anne Frank by three years and 750 kilometers. Both children are keen observers of the people they live with, themselves, and the horror beyond their limited circle.

One of the appeals of children's stories about humanity's horrors is the myth/hope that children can pass through these events unscathed. This particular story has a happy ending, and
Oct 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told from the viewpoint of Maral, a teenage girl in Paris during WW II, All the Light There Was offers the perspective of the Armenian minority community struggling to survive while war rages around them. Her parents and other adults in their community survived the Armenian genocide find themselves re-traumatize by the war. This impacts their reactions to the effects of war on their daily lives, the death of loved ones and their childrens choices. The family tires to do the right thing and ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is good, but not fantastic. I've read quite a few historical fiction novels that take place during WWII, and this one is different because it's about an ordinary girl. Maral isn't Jewish, but she has friends and neighbors who are Jewish and are rounded up and deported by the Nazis. She's not active in the Resistance, but she has friends and family members who are. Maral is an ordinary girl, trying to live an ordinary life, and so we get a glimpse of what Parisian families struggled ...more
Nancy Colello
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and well written. It never occurred to me about how a group of people who recently survived a catastrophe of epic proportions (Armenian Genocide of 1915) would relive it again in Paris with the Nazi occupation during WWII. The references to historic figures important to the French resistance who were of Armenian ancestry was also interesting. Blending this history with the love story of a young couple and all the twists and turns that took made for a very captivating book. I ...more
Brenda Hawley
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Told from the voice of a teenaged Armenia whose family lives in Paris during the Nazi occupation, this subtle novel is more about the emergence and maturing of love than actually World War II. Nicely written, the family intimacies and struggles are highlighted through the slow starvation of its members. The perils of resistance workers and the deportation of the French Jews play a minor role in how these events affect the author and her family. I enjoyed the novel but was a bit less moved and ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
So I really liked this book and it's a super quick read. It reminded me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but set in Paris. My only big problem with the book was the ending. The author wrote beautifully and engagingly, but I felt like the last 3-5 pages were rushed. I wish she would have spent more time on the ending, but what's written has been written.
Aline Ohanesian
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of genocide books. They fascinate me. And to a certain extent I've become a bit immune to their brand of tragedy, but I was reading this on a plane and broke down in tears, the ugly kind, right around page 103. It's a marvelous book.
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was a good, somewhat predictable easy read. A page turning historical fiction novel with romance and heartbreak. I'm glad I read it. If you enjoy WWII era fiction with a drama or any historical drama, I recommend you read it.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book. A little shallow but enjoyable to get a different perspective on Paris during the German occupation.I would recommend it.
Jennifer Solheim
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
An intimate snow globe of a tale about a young Armenian woman coming of age in Paris during the Vichy era.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nora Murad
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amidst the plethora of literature that aims to humanize the inhumanity of the Holocaust by telling the story through the lens of a single family, "All the Light There Was" shows a refreshingly different perspective -- that of an Armenian family in France. I read the paperback version available through She Writes Press and found it an easy read with engaging characters whose loves and disappointments convey not the horror of camps that fills up so much of this genre, but the seemingly endless ...more
Jun 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was very excited to read this book when I was recommended it on here. When I got half way through it, I began to realize that it wasnt what I thought. It ended up being a poorly written Nicholas Sparks novel. There was little to no content, things happened too quickly with no explanation as to why. The main character would change love interests every other chapter. I found it annoying how there were serious matters going on in the background and all this girl could think about was Zaven. Sorry ...more
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Understated novel of an Armenian refugee family, whose parents have already escaped a genocide in Turkey, living in France as World War II sweeps into Paris. Much of the emotion is under the surface, where the reader may ponder it. Beautiful, little details that make it realistic. How do we live? How do we survive?
Cindy L
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Historical fiction about a family living in Paris in WW two. I wished the characters were developed more. A decent, entertaining story... But it was lacking. Also, did the author have some sort of personal connection to the events and references in this story? Meh.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
WWII, Armenian family in Paris, nice story and some of these people had a fairly normal life during the war. At least they lived in the same apartment, had same friends and family. Some people were lost, of course, but not as gruesome as other books.
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Sisterhood of the...: All the Light There Was by Nancy Kricorian 46 25 Nov 23, 2013 04:56AM  

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Nancy Kricorian is a New York City-based writer and activist. She is the author of the novels Zabelle, Dreams of Bread and Fire, and most recently All The Light There Was, which is set in the Armenian community of Paris during World War II. She participated in the 2010 Palestine Festival of Literature, and taught at the Palestine Writing Workshop in Birzeit in 2011. Kricorian was the Fall 2015 ...more

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