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All the Light We Cannot See

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4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  488,045 Ratings  ·  49,720 Reviews
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
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 Histo
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Hardcover, 530 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Scribner
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Susan Zinner I just finished this book yesterday and I haven't read what any others have said. My own view (and I just adored this book) is that the jewel…moreI just finished this book yesterday and I haven't read what any others have said. My own view (and I just adored this book) is that the jewel represents the waste and futility of war. So much effort and loss of life was expended in trying to get this jewel (or at least the real one) and was not obtained and sits there unfound and unadmired, yet worth a fortune. Was it worth it? Probably not? (Just my two cents worth...)(less)
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)

Community Reviews

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LeeAnne

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
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Emily May
Dec 02, 2014 Emily May 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
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Melanie
Oct 17, 2013 Melanie 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
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Rick Riordan
Jul 24, 2015 Rick Riordan 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
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Becky
May 06, 2014 Becky 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
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Chrissie
Oct 20, 2013 Chrissie 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
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Jenna
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
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Maciek
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
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Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
Jun 11, 2016 Catriona (LittleBookOwl) 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
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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
Dem
Jan 11, 2014 Dem 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
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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
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Angela M
Dec 11, 2013 Angela M 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
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Jim Fonseca
Mar 07, 2017 Jim Fonseca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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Raeleen Lemay
Jun 02, 2014 Raeleen Lemay rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
oK.

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
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Candace
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.
Steve
Apr 15, 2015 Steve 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
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Diane S ☔
Dec 11, 2013 Diane S ☔ 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
Nataliya
"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
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Diane
May 19, 2014 Diane 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
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Dianne
A 4.5....review 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
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Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)


*Edit* Rambling, part one.

5 stars for now because I will never forget this story. What they mean, will they stick, is another story. I may be able to review this novel in 20 minutes or days or years. For now I feel betrayed and speechless and sick and humbled and haunted and confused and hopeful and depressed and mad and bewitched and exhausted.

Perhaps I'm supposed to. Perhaps I'm not.

"I need to gather my thoughts" never sounded so fitting, really. Trust me, you don't want to be in my head rig
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Candi
Feb 12, 2015 Candi 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
Cecily
description

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
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Violet wells
“What mazes there are in this world. The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals, the streets her father recreated in his models... None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.”

I’m a sucker for beautiful writing and this is a very beautifully written novel. Doerr always has full imaginative command of his detail and, even if occasionally he feeds too much pr
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Marialyce
Jun 01, 2014 Marialyce 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 DEFENSE
- 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
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Connie
2.5, maybe 3

So I maybe cried at the end of this....because I was done, or because I was so sad that I didn't like it more, not sure which. I rarely count pages...sometimes I am just sad when I only have a few left. This one I was counting to be done! Not a good sign.

Let me say, the writing was beautiful...I kept reading descriptive passages aloud. But they were about the settings, not the characters. Doerr made the settings come alive, the poverty I saw, the bombings I heard, the dust and rot
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Matt
I follow a very specific plan whenever a new work of popular fiction bursts upon the stage. First, I buy it, right away. Like the instant I finish reading the review in the New York Times. Second, I put the book on my shelf, as soon as I receive it. Finally, I read it, two or three or four years later, when I finally get around to it. This routine is a function of several things, chiefly a love of books, a deliberate reading speed, and also financial impulsivity. At one point my wife found this ...more
Regan
May 24, 2014 Regan rated it it was amazing
It was amazing.
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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
More about Anthony Doerr...

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“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” 1601 likes
“But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?” 750 likes
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