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All the Light We Cannot See

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  710,473 Ratings  ·  61,914 Reviews
An alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, National Book Award finalist, more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and
Hardcover, 531 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Scribner (first published May 2014)
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Kim My mother was in Hitler's Youth. It was not optional. Not doing so would bring harm/death to your family/self. Knowing what I do abouit Berlin and the…moreMy mother was in Hitler's Youth. It was not optional. Not doing so would bring harm/death to your family/self. Knowing what I do abouit Berlin and the accounts my mother has shared with me, I always say the first country Hitler invaded was Germay. (less)

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

This book has the most hauntingly beautiful prose I've ever read. It's brimming with rich details that fill all five senses simultaneously. It's full of beautiful metaphors that paint gorgeous images. I didn't want this book to end, but I couldn't put it down.

"In August 1944 the historic walled city of Saint-Malo, the brightest jewel of the Emerald Coast of Brittany, France was almost destroyed by fire....Of the 865 buildings within the walls, only 18
Emily May
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

I'm going to be honest - love for this book didn't hit me straight away. In fact, my first attempt to read it last year ended with me putting it aside and going to find something easier, lighter and less descriptive to read. I know - meh, what a quitter.

But this book is built on beautiful imagery. Both in the literal sense - the physical world of 1940s Paris/Germany - and the metaphoric
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I always thought, or imagined, that there were these invisible lines trembling in our wake, outlining our trajectories through life, throbbing with electric energy. Lines that sometimes cross one other, or follow in parallel ellipses without ever touching, or meet up for one brief moment and then part. A universe of lines crisscrossing in the void.

Anthony Doerr's astonishing new novel "All The Light We Cannot See" follows the complex arcs of two such invisible lines through the lives of Werner P
Rick Riordan
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Adult fiction

This book is getting a lot of well-deserved attention for its unique story and its beautiful writing. It starts late in World War II, as the Allies begin shelling the French city of Saint-Malo to drive out the remaining Nazi troops. Our two main characters are Marie Laure, a blind French girl who fled here with her uncle from Paris, and Werner, a radio expert in the German army who is stuck in the city when the attack begins. We jump back and forth in time, and between the two char
May 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm sure this is going to mark me as a literary dud, but for all the brilliant reviews of this book? I couldn't really get into it.

The book revolves around Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives with her father. Her father is the locksmith at the Paris Museum of Natural History, and Marie is raised wholly in the museum and at home. Marie has a semi-idyllic childhood until the Nazi's invade Paris and she and her father have to flee to another city, where a reclusive uncle lives. Unknown to Marie, he
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Why write a review if I am such an atypical reader?

I will keep this brief since I feel most readers will not react as I have, but isn’t it important that all views are voiced?

All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book more confusing. I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the
This is a carefully constructed book which is bound to captivate a large audience and become very popular, and be blessed with many warm reviews - it was chosen by Goodreads members as the best historical fiction of 2014, and shortlisted for the National Book Award. There are multiple reasons for its success - but they are also the same reasons as to why I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would.

Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See follows the parallel lives of two protagonists - Marie
It has been awhile since I have found a book that I wanted to read slowly so that I could soak in every detail in hopes that the last page seems to never come.

When reading the synopsis of this novel, I never imagined that I would feel so connected to a book where one of the main characters is blind and the other a brilliant young German orphan who was chosen to attend a brutal military academy under Hitler's power using his innate engineering skills.

This novel was so much more than the above st
Michael Finocchiaro
Honestly, wtf? I mean, we all know the blind person trope (Daredevil, etc) and the lovable Nazi trope (Hiroshima Mon Amour) and the mystical object searched for by evil Nazis trope (Indiana Jones), so why throw all of these together? The book was readable but no more so than a pulp fiction thriller. Honestly, I don't see this as being Pulitzer quality. The characters were ok, the narration interesting, but a masterpiece? The best US fiction in 2015? Perhaps not. And please don't accuse me of bei ...more
Jim Fonseca
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
This is a great book. Its very high ratings (4.3; half of the ratings are "5's") renews my faith that GR ratings count for something. With almost 50,000 reviews on GR I don’t feel there is a lot for me to add but here’s a brief summary of the plot and I’ll give a few examples of the great literary writing.

It’s just before the Nazi invasion and occupation of Paris. A young blind girl relies on her father for everything and she is his world as well. He spends all his time making her a wooden model
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was so beautiful and haunting. I fell in love with so many of the characters, and loved how their lives were weaved together. Knowing the time period this was set in, I knew the ending would hurt. And it did, though I didn't shed as many tears as I expected.
The writing was incredible, the descriptions so vivid. It did a superb job of showing the reader how the characters felt through their actions, rather than telling. Whilst the short chapters (on average 1.5 pages) helped to make thi
Will Byrnes
4/20/15 - PULITZER WINNER for 2014
The brain is locked in total darkness of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?
Marie Laure LeBlanc is a teen who had gone blind at age 6. She and her father, Daniel, fled Paris ahead of the German
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: book club read
Shelves: ww2
I enjoyed this novel by Anthony Doerr and yet when I was nearing the end I couldn't help feel a a sense of relief to have finished the book.

I enjoy historical fiction and really looked forward to this novel by Anthony Doerr as it was set in a time frame that that really interests me. Because I read quite a lot of novels set around World War Two I love the fact that the author took a a slightly different path with his storytelling and that is what drew me to this novel.

I loved the characters of M
Angela M
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What I loved most about this book was all the light that I did see. There is so much here that captivated me - from the beautiful writing to the strong, caring characters to the loving relationships and the way people touched each other's lives during the trying times of WW II.

Parallel stories are told in alternating chapters of Marie Laure, a teenage French girl who has been blind since the age of six and Werner, an intelligent, perceptive and sensitive German orphan who learns to fix radios an
So, I know I should be oohing and ahhing over this book, but it just wasn't for me. This is definitely one of those "it's not you, it's me" moments. I can see why many people have given such glowing reviews, but I found it to be unbearably dull and slow-moving. I never felt a strong connection with either of the main characters or the story itself. I'm just glad that it ended.
Diane S ☔
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For me, this was a very special read. I feel like I have been on a long gut-wrenching journey, and in a way I have, traveling with two young children, one in Berlin and one in Paris and follow them as they grow-up. There are poignant moments, downright sad moments, moments that made me smile and moments that made me so very angry. Werner in Berlin is a curious child, a child with the talent for putting things together, like radios, he and his sister Jutta live in an orphanage. Marie-Laure, a bli ...more
Raeleen Lemay
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own

When I started this book, I noticed some similarities to The Book Thief, and although they quickly fell to the wayside, I couldn't help but compare this book to The Book Thief the entire time I was reading it. And since The Book Thief is my favorite book of all time, it kind of took away some of the enjoyment for me while reading this.

The plot and the characters ended up being quite different (which was great), but I just found that the pacing was a bit off for me. It was a bit too slow for m
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A book topping the charts for weeks and weeks hardly needs my help, but I’m going to do this one the favor of a recommendation anyway. For efficiency’s sake, I’ll be addressing categories of friends en masse.

To those who like big-boughed characters (i.e., more than just stick figures): You get two compelling souls with this one: Marie-Laure, the valiant and inquisitive French girl who went blind at age six, and Werner, the tow-headed German orphan who had a knack for gadgets and science. Set in
I think that my opinion of this book does not match the general opinion.

I was pretty bored throughout and my mind kept wandering. I kept waiting for a big payoff, plot twist, that would bring my attention crashing back. I thought there might be some grand resolution beyond the symbolism and poetry of the writing, and there really didn't seem to be. Maybe I missed it while my mind was wandering.

Two other things - I have been encountering these a lot lately:

- WWII is now definitely entrenched as a
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a case of where I am going to hate myself for again feeling a book that has received a multitude of five star ratings feel short for me. It was not that I disliked it, but I found it to be jumpy and often disjointed. I am not a fan of the current trend of devoting one chapter to one character and the next to another and flipping back and forth. To my way of reading and thinking, it doesn't allow the reader (me) to gather depth of a character. It makes me overly anxious to sally forth try ...more
David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party
"Book - you have the right to a speedy trial" - review

- The story is both heart-warming and heart-breaking at times. Anyone looking for a good cry (or an ugly cry, or a proud cry, or, well, any kind of cry, really), this is the book for you!

- Both lead characters are extremely likable and sympathetic.

- The book does a brilliant job portraying the bleakness and tragedy of war and the many different ways it can affect people's lives.

- Werner's story is particularly effective. Wat
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Is this the best World War II novel I've ever read? Possibly. It's definitely at the top of the list.*

Once again, I'm a little late to this book party, but I'm glad I made an appearance. So many readers had loved this book (and now that I've read it, I can see why it's such a favorite), but I kept putting it off because I've grown weary of WWII stories. Seriously, there is so much published about that period that it's overwhelming to sift through all the titles.**

But there are several things ab
"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever."
It's a story of childhood interrupted by war. Two children - a blind French girl Marie-Laure LeBlanc and a German orphan Werner Pfennig - caught against their will in the unrelenting forces of cruel madness and destruction of World War II, dragged along in the senseless current of history that does not care about the fates or ordinary people. This is a story of their lives until the brief moment in which they collide, to
How do I review a novel that most of my friends loved but left me mainly indifferent. Again, I have a case when I feel guilty for not liking a book more and trying to figure out what is wrong with me. Since that failed I will try my luck explaining what this novel did or didn’t do for me.

Firstly, the writing. It is beautiful, intricate, full of elegant, well thought sentences. However, they let me untouched. I don’t know why but I did not feel anything when reading those polished words. Maybe,
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and breathtaking, Anthony Doerr’s WW2 novel is one that will stay with me for a very long time. This is so much more than just a wartime account; it is a heartfelt story which illuminates the human element during these horrific times. The characterizations are superb and I loved the way the stories of Marie-Laure, the blind French girl living in German-occupied Saint-Malo, and Werner, the bright German orphan and recruit to Hitler’s Youth academy, are interlaced. The story alternates b ...more
Miranda Reads
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
Why are all prize winning books so depressing?

Do the Pulitzer Prize judges immediately disqualify fun books? Seriously, I don't think I've seen a happy one yet.
Don’t you want to be alive before you die?
We follow two storylines - one set in Germany focused on Werner Pfennig, an orphan, who's always dreamed of an education. He finally gets an opportunity, through the brutal tutelage of the Nazis.

And we follow Marie-Laure, a french blind girl much beloved by her father, a locksmith of the Muse
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It was amazing.
A coming. Have to ponder this a bit. It was a 5 until the last 50 pages....not sure I am being fair here. Very, very good book.

UPDATED: I received an advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley and Scribner. Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner. This review, however, is based on the hardcover version.

I have read this book twice now. The first time, the author had me in the palm of his hand. I was totally absorbed in the book and the flow and the pace of how the stories of Marie-Lau

In the darkest places, at the darkest times, there is light, if we can but believe.

This is a story of contrasts, parallels, and coming together.

It is about light, and so, inevitably, also about the dark.

The descriptions are very visual, but what cannot be seen is key. One of the two main characters is blind, so it’s about touch and smell and sound as well. And it’s radio that drives many lives and events. “Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth.” It is also “a war waged through the air
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a well written, beautifully envisioned, powerful, frustrating, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive novel that humanizes a difficult time.

Told from the alternating third person narrative perspectives of a blind French girl, a young German boy and a German sergeant major, author Anthony Doerr, who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for this work, blends stark realism with elements of legendary fantasy and introspective prose to create a chronicle of a time and place that is human and approa
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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 Discov ...more
“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” 2036 likes
“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?” 955 likes
More quotes…